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Arkansas pharmacies gearing up for expected COVID-19 vaccine rollout



Arkansas – With the announcement of a coronavirus vaccine candidate being suggested for approval emergency use authorization, the state of Arkansas is prepared for a shipment of around 25,000 doses to arrive soon.

Arkansas Pharmacist Association CEO John Vinson believes that is many doses will be available in the Natural State “early next week, end of the weekend at the earliest.”

Vinson said that pharmacies are perfect liaisons for the vaccine.

“There’s nobody on Earth that’s more trained in the management of the splash chain pharmaceuticals than pharmacists,” he claimed.

Five pharmacies across the state will get the initial shipment. All of them have ultra-cold freezers, all of them have staffing for it and all of them are signed up to be a part of the rollout and distribution. These community pharmacies in Paragould, Jonesboro, Little Rock, Benton, and Hot Springs will assist medium and smaller hospitals in the first wave.

Vinson explained that the next wave of vaccine will be distributed more widely to 126 pharmacies across the state for delivery. The first shipment will be for those specific pharmacy staff and hospital workers in those areas. The second wave will provide for more hospital workers and nursing home staff and residents.

While the distributions will become wider spread, Vinson reiterated that the vaccine doses the state receives early on will not be enough to cover all of those workers and residents in care facilities, but there will be enough eventually.

Pfizer will make automatic second shipments of the required second booster shot to pharmacies in the same number of any shipment made.

According to Vinson, pharmacies in Arkansas are ready to finally get the vaccine out to get the state opened back up.

“Our last-minute training preparations and logistics are ready to rock ‘n’ roll or ready to play offense rather than play defense.  They’re ready to make a difference, too,” he said. “We’ve got to get this country back, and I know where we’re able to do some things, you know we’ve opened up some parts of our country, but we need to get our country back to the quality of life were custom to.”

Vinson said there are more tiers of those eligible for the vaccine as deployment along. After health care works, first responders and teachers will be eligible, and Vinson believes they could be ready to get vaccines sooner depending on how many people take the vaccine initially. He did note that it will be late spring or early summer by the time a vaccine is available for the general public to take.