South Arkansas pharmacies prepare for Phase 1B vaccine distribution

Arkansas News

SOUTH ARKANSAS (KTVE/KARD) — Arkansas pharmacies are gearing up to vaccinate teachers, daycare workers and adults who are 70 years of age and older.

Clinics in Ashley and Union counties have been overwhelmed with calls from residents who are trying to make appointments for the vaccine.

Employees have compiled a list of callers which grew considerably after Governor Asa Hutchinson announced this week those listed in Phase 1B of the vaccination plan could begin receiving the shots on Monday.

“Yesterday when we left we had about 750 people,” Lead Pharmacist at Gammel’s Clinic and Pharmacy, Katie Land said. “Our list contains everybody that has called but not everyone is going to qualify to get it starting on Monday.”

Land estimates approximately 500 people who have called will be eligible next week. She says most of the callers that have wanted to get the vaccine have been people 60 years of age and older.

Residents in Ashley County began calling for their shots when the state initially announced a plan to vaccinate the public including my father 71-year-old James Phifer who has underlying health conditions.

“I wanted to be a part of it to make sure that my name was in there to receive the shot,” Phifer said.

Gammel’s Clinic and Pharmacy in Crossett is the only location in the county where people can get vaccinated.

Melvin’s Discount Pharmacy in El Dorado is also taking appointments for those 70 years of age or older.

The clinic will begin vaccinating childcare workers, higher education workers and those individuals over 70 years old on Tuesday while the Medical Center of South Arkansas is strictly focusing on teachers and staff in school districts across Union County.

“We chose to focus on our teachers because kind of like us they can’t stay home,” MCSA Director of Business Development, Alex Bennett said. “They’re working on the youth to keep them educated.”

The hospital currently has 100 doses of the vaccine and will vaccinate the Parkers Chapel School District on Monday. Bennett says 91 employees in the district have signed up to receive the shot.

They are working with other school districts to make sure they get scheduled as well. Each school is doing a poll to determine how many of its employees are interested in receiving the vaccine.

“When we get in a shipment of vaccines, we’re going to allocate them based on how many employees they have at each school,” Bennett said. “We are working with the Arkansas Department of Health on getting our allocation for future administration of vaccines.”

MCSA plans to use one of its former clinics to administer the shots and will schedule 10 people every 15 minutes to allow time for cleaning in between groups. The hospital is also planning to vaccinate patients as well.

“We are also including those who are 70 plus in our efforts. We are going to be using our patient list to be able to reach out to those individually to make appointments to come,” Bennett said.

Gammel’s Clinic and Pharmacy has been in contact with the Crossett and El Dorado School Districts and is trying to set up clinics at the schools to give employees their shots.

Will these clinics be able to meet the demand of this large number of people in need of the vaccine? Pharmacists believe they will but it won’t happen all in one week.

“We will definitely get to them we’re just trying to do our best to go down the list,” Land said.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, the state receives approximately 40,000 doses each week.

Medical Director of Immunizations at Arkansas’ Department of Health, Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, attributes the slow rollout of the vaccine to limited supply and is urging everyone to be patient as they wait their turn.

As the vaccine allocation increases ADH plans expand to more pharmacies as well as many medical clinics as possible to do the vaccination.

If you get a call from Gammel’s Clinic and Pharmacy in Crossett, patients can either choose to get vaccinated inside their vehicles or they come inside the clinic. Depending on how many doses the pharmacy receives, Land believes the pharmacy will be able to see about 30 patients a day.

“On Monday, we’ll start making phone calls and setting up appointments for those people that qualify for the phase that he opened up,” Land said.

Wal-Mart Pharmacy located in El Dorado is also administering the vaccine. They couldn’t be reached for a statement.

Here are the pharmacies you can visit in the following counties to set up an appointment. The vaccines are free for those who are insured or uninsured.

  • Ashley County
    • Gammel’s Clinic and Pharmacy (870) 364-5100 909 Unity Road Crossett, Ark.
  • Chicot County
    • Delta Drug of Dermott — (870) 538-5233 — 111 E Peddicord St. Dermott, Ark.
  • Columbia County
    • Wilson Bearden Pharmacy — (870) 234-1062 — 134 N. Washington Magnolia, Ark.
  • Drew County
    • City Drug — (870) 367-5301 — 201 East Gaines Monticello, Ark.
    • The Prescription Pad Pharmacy — (870) 367-4227 — 539 Highway 425 South Monticello, Ark.
  • Ouachita County
    • Camden Drug — (870) 836-9303 — 1005 W Washington Camden, Ark.
    • Bearden Pharmacy — (870) 687-3814 — 26 NW 1ST ST. Bearden, Ark.
  • Union County
    • Melvin’s Discount Pharmacy — (870) 863-4155 — 828 W Hillsboro El Dorado, Ark.
    • Walmart Pharmacy #10-0530 El Dorado NW Ave — (870) 862-4866 — 2730 Northwest Ave. El Dorado, Ark.

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