Arkansas health officials scrambling to get pediatric vaccine doses to counties

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Walgreens said it will begin administering Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to 5- to 11-year-olds nationwide on Saturday. (Walgreens)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – As parents begin to seek out pediatric COVID-19 vaccine doses for their children, some in Arkansas may find themselves waiting as health officials work to get the vaccinations distributed.

As of 9 a.m. Wednesday, the Arkansas Department of Health lists having the doses available at 37 of its Local Health Units. However, 46 of the offices in the state still have no doses.

Offices in the northwest and northeast regions of the state seem to have the best chance of having doses, with 22 of 38 total offices in those districts having the vaccine on hand.

Less than half of the offices in the central district of the state have vaccine doses, though the five offices in Pulaski County are all set to have vaccine doses by 10:30 a.m., according to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s office.

Inquiries made to Arkansas Children’s Hospital found that the facility also had not received any of the pediatric doses.

In southwest Arkansas, eight of the 17 offices have the doses, while in the southeast, only one office of 14, in Jefferson County, has vaccines ready to give out Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Hutchinson and Arkansas Secretary of Heath Dr. Jose Romero said all of the LHUs would be providing the pediatric vaccinations, adding that the state was ready to immediately roll out the vaccination efforts as soon as final federal approval was given.

“Arkansas is well prepared to get out the vaccines and make them available to the age group that we anticipate will be approved,” Hutchinson told reporters. “We want to ensure to everyone that this is a parental decision for their children, we encourage it and that discussion, but there is no mandate.”

Health officials also said Tuesday that providers with Vaccines for Children designations that are already enrolled in the COVID-19 vaccination program would be receiving doses.

There is no word yet from ADH officials if those doses are ready to be administered around the state.

Parents looking for more information on pediatric vaccinations can go online to Healthy.Arkansas.gov or reach out to the ADH COVID-19 call center at 1-800-803-7847.

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