FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – Just a month into the vaccine rollout, former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar announced the U.S. doesn’t have a reserve stockpile of covid vaccines. A number of doses many states including Arkansas were depending on.
CEO of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association, John Vinson, says because the state won’t be seeing an increase of COVID-19 vaccines as promised by the federal government, it could be months before we complete phase 1-B.
“We were told that the manufacturing had caught up with the supply chain, meaning we would go from 37,000 doses to about 75,000 doses a week based on those promises,” says Vinson.
Vinson says he was under the impression there would be a 55% increase in COVID-19 vaccine supply, something that would have gone a long way in meeting the demand.
“Within a week of those promises being made the Washington Post reported this was false, there was no reserve so that was very disappointing for our state and our providers with plans and expectations,” says Vinson.
Julie Stewart is a pharmacist in northwest Arkansas. She says they’re feeling the impact of this even at the local level.
“If we only get 10% of what we need every week to vaccinate this current phase that means it’s going to take a couple of months if not longer,” says Stewart.
Despite not having a drastic increase in supply, Vinson says Arkansas is doing well with what we have.
“I don’t want our viewers to think that there is a shortage of vaccine coming into the state. We have a consistent and steady supply it’s just that the Arkansas Department of Health team is making sure there’s equitable distribution,” says Vinson.
Vinson says he’d like to see the Biden administration work more with manufacturers to help get out enough supply to meet the growing demand.