Hundreds of employees at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences lined up today for their COVID-19 vaccinations as the institution opened eligibility to all staff, whether involved in patient care or not.
Vice Chancellor Leslie Taylor said UAMS had as of yesterday provided 7,186 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, and of those 2,354 were 2nd doses, thus completing the regimen. (UPDATE for the record: UAMS gave 1,213 shots on Tuesday, bringing the cumulative total to 8,526. Of those, 5,606 were first shots and the rest were second.) As of 3 p.m., the med center had 2,400 doses remaining in its supply, which is replenished weekly.
Baptist Health and CHI St. Vincent have also opened up their vaccine supply to all employees.
The state receives about 50,000 doses each week, Governor Hutchinson said today. Arkansas has so far received 227,500 doses and administered 89,449, or 39.3 percent of its allocation. However, because both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses, the number does not represent all who have completed the regimen. Starting Jan. 18, persons age 70 and over and educators and school and higher ed staff will be eligible for whatever vaccine is available.
About 40 percent of the state’s long-term care facilities chose to contract with Walgreens or CVS for their vaccine supply, for both staff and residents. Those national pharmacies, which earned national contracts for distribution, have not performed as well as the state: Of the 24,700 doses allocated to those pharmacies in Arkansas, only 15.7 percent (3,884) have been administered. Dr. Jose Romero, the state secretary of health, said the national pharmacies had had some logistical issues and absenteeism due to COVID-19. He also noted the 72-hour lag in reporting to the CDC, and said that by the end of the week he hoped to see improvement in the percentage.
The New York Times reported this week that Arkansas came in last in the nation in administering its supply of vaccine — it put Arkansas’s rate at 1.4% the state’s figure of 3%, roughly — but Romero and Governor Hutchinson said today that the Times’ reporting was off because CDC data was lacking. Romero said a file containing state data was sent to a wrong office at the CDC.