NORTHWEST ARKANSAS,(KNWA/KFTA) — At the start of Arkansas’ vaccine rollout, appointments were hard to come by. The Arkansas Pharmacists Association tells us although there’s a drop in the demand for the vaccine, it’s still being given at a substantial rate keeping pharmacies and health clinics busy.

In some cases, people are not coming back to get their second vaccine dose. As fewer people roll up their sleeves to get the COVID -19 shot, it’s creating a new challenge for pharmacists and that is keeping wastage low.

Every vial has a number of doses and once it is punctured the clock starts ticking before you have to use all of the doses in that vial before it’s trash.

Pharmacists are being more flexible with schedules and more of them are accepting walk-in clients.

CEO of the organization, John Vinson says the worse thing that could happen is that a pharmacist turns down a patient because they don’t have enough appointment slots to fulfill every single dose in a vial.

“If it means you have to waste part of a vial in order to get everybody vaccinated in that day… It’s more important to people vaccinated than it’s to worry about a few or a handful or less of doses being wasted at the end of the day,” said Vinson.

He adds the general rule is for providers to do the best that they can but not to turn anybody away because the best time to vaccinate someone is when they are ready to get the shot.

The state’s department of health tells us right now the state has very little vaccine wastage. However, there are concerns with Moderna planning to move from a 10 dose vial to a 14 dose vial and that will make it even more difficult to use to vial up.

Vinson tells us he noticed a drop in urgency overall, adding some people say they want to wait to get the shot but adds that could end up hurting them at the end.

There’s also a concern about the increased number of people contracting the variant across the globe.

He says it’s urgent that people get vaccinated and tells us pharmacists are doing what they can to get people to stick to their appointments but to also re-engage folks get the second dose, whether that is through text, call or email.

“The perfect situation would be… get your first dose, return to the same provider, the same location for your second dose but more importantly than that if you missed it or the appointment didn’t fit your schedule get that second dose somewhere,” said Vinson.

He reminds folks that even if you are past the time you were supposed to get the vaccine to still get the shot. It does not mean you need to restart the series again. Once you get the second shot you are done, but you must stick to the same vaccine you started with.

They are planning on increasing awareness efforts and working with community leaders to help raise vaccination rates so the state can reach herd immunity.