EL DORADO, Ark. (KTVE/KARD) — So far, health care workers and first responders have recieved the COVID-19 vaccine. Next up are teachers and those who are 70 years old and older but when will the general public get their chance?
Many across Arkansas like Larry Woods are anxious to get this extra layer of protection against the coronavirus. For a middle-aged man who has Sarcoidosis, Woods says it’s taking too long for the vaccines to get in the arms of the public.
“That concerns me deeply the fact that there’s no progress with all of the people who have been affected and are dying to this covid virus,” he said. “Please. Please speed up the process.”
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, they believe their current plan is effective. Healthcare workers, residents in long term care facilities, first responders and other high priortiy workers began getting vaccinated in December.
Currently, the state receives 40,000 doses of the vaccine each week.
“Unfortunately, we just don’t have a lot of doses to give to people so it feels like it’s a long time to get people vaccinated,” Dr. Jennifer Dillaha said.
“I do not think that we could vaccinate any faster if we opened up the gates to everyone being vaccinated. I think it would just create frustration and chaos.”
Medical Director of Immunizations at Arkansas’ Department of Health, Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, says the state isn’t competing for vaccines though states will no longer be receiving vaccines based on population, according to
Instead, they will be allocated according to how quickly the state can get out the vaccine.
“That change will take place in a couple of weeks. We are going to be doing some special trainings with our vaccine providers so they know how to report because it will put us in a position to compete with other states,” Dr. Dillaha said.
“As the vaccine allocation increases we want to expand to more pharmacies as well as many medical clinics as possible to do the vaccination. The more quickly we have vaccinators out there, the more quickly we can vaccinate the population.”
Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Monday that people ages 70 and older, teachers and school staff, daycare employees could start receiving vaccines on January 18.
According to the state’s plan, food and agriculture workers, grocery store workers, post service workers and essential government workers can expect to get vaccinated in February.
As far as the general public it could be June before the state gets to phase 2.
“This is going to create some frustrations for people who want to get vaccinated as soon as possible. We are going to have to ask that people be patient. Do not make an appointment in multiple locations. That will not help get the vaccine any faster but it could delay other people getting the vaccine,” Dr. Dillaha said.
To see where you can get vaccinated in your area, visit this link.