JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - As day one of Phase 1-B COVID-19 vaccine distributions in Arkansas opens, pharmacies have no vaccines to give.
Southern Pharmacy did not receive their vaccine shipment last week. Sunday, the pharmacy was on a 1.5-hour call with Arkansas Pharmacy Association, where they learned no Craighead County pharmacy got the shipment.
The news forced them to cancel all Monday and Tuesday vaccination appointments. In total, 100 people were told they could not get their vaccine.
The pharmacy did not know why they didn’t receive their vaccine but said communication is lacking.
“Communication has been a nightmare with this,” Pharmacist Kass Lomax said. “Nobody knows what’s going on. Sometimes the pharmacies will not have the doses we thought we were going to have, like today.”
Lomax said this isn’t just a Jonesboro issue, it’s a logistical nightmare for the whole state.
“We’re all just trying to do the best we can,” she said. “We want to get these vaccines into people’s arms just as much as they want to get it.”
A reporter from Little Rock station KARK asked Governor Asa Hutchinson and Vaccine Distribution Program Coordinator Col. Robert Ator about the issue.
“Pharmacies and providers need to understand that they can make a request. Just because they make a request for a certain number of doses does not mean they’re going to get that, and they need to follow up with us to know what they are going to be allocated because they can’t make commitments until they know what they’re actually going to receive from the state,” Hutchinson said.
Pharmacies request a number of vaccines. The state then allocates the vaccines. Weekly, the state monitors how well the pharmacy or hospital administers the vaccine.
“If we see in the previous week the pharmacy did not do a very good job at getting vaccines out of those that were distributed to them, we can make an adjustment to make sure we get that supply to the pharmacies and hospitals that are effective at getting it out,” Hutchinson said.
“Right now we have 236 different pharmacies and hospitals that are operating within our provider network. Truthfully if we’re going, to be honest about this is that we have over 700 other providers that want to be enrolled in the program,” Ator said.
Southern Pharmacy expects to get its next round of vaccines by Wednesday.
When they do, they will offer the vaccine at an off-site location. The undisclosed location was donated to the pharmacy.
Lomax said this would help them socially distance and also help make up appointments canceled this week.
To see about a COVID-19 vaccine, click here.