NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, (KNWA/KFTA) — With limited supply of the COVID-19 vaccines nationwide, it’s important that vaccine doses are not wasted.
The Department of Health tells KNWA/FOX24 News the state has been doing a good job getting the shot in people’s arms and overall there has been very low wastage of the COVID-19 shot.
The ADH says once a vial has been punctured by a needle the clock starts ticking and it takes about 6 hours before it goes bad.
Pharmacies and clinic have a system in place to call people in to give those extra doses available. They are recommended to start with people in the current priority group first but it’s better to administer all of the doses from a vial available than to throw away any leftover shots.
Ryan Cork is with the NWA Council, the organization working with several community partners hosted a mass vaccination clinic on Friday for 3,000 people. He says about 100 people were no shows or cancellations.
“There’s a window on the vitality of the dose before it expires. So it was really pointed at or triggered at calling someone or folks someone knew throughout the hospital or health care system that could come over and get the dose,” said Cork.
Cork says the goal was to get calls out to those eligible first. Essentially they were able to fill every single spot so no doses ended up in the trash.
Kimberly Lowe filled one of those spots. She has a severe heart condition, and is a high risk for complications if she gets the coronavirus. Thanks to a no show at the local mass vaccination clinic she is now one step closer to being fully vaccinated.
Lowe tells KNWA/FOX24 since March she and her family have taken several precautions. She has not stepped foot inside a grocery store for about a year now, her daughter is doing virtual learning and technology is helping them stay connected with loved ones.
Although she is under 65 years old she has a serious health condition. She was able to get her first COVID -19 shot at NWA Council’s mass vaccination clinic Friday, taking the place of someone who didn’t show up to their appointment.
She says her primary doctor put a call out to his high-risk patients and Lowe was one of them.
“It felt surreal. I don’t think that Zac and I have ever been this excited to get a vaccine, but for us we know it’s a step towards the right direction, one step closer to normalcy, to hugging our family,” said Lowe.
When Lowe arrived, the clinic made sure there really was a surplus at the end of the clinic and then allowed her and about 100 other people get vaccinated.
She says once she is fully vaccinated, she does plan to loosen up a little and her daughter will be back in the classroom in-person next school year.
She adds getting the vaccine is doing her part to protect herself and her family.
Cork says that the vaccination clinic could potentially be a model for future clinics across the state. Cork says overall everything went smoothly but there are some changes they would like to implement in the future to make the line move faster. For example, by adding more staging stations, so that by the time someone gets to the tent all they have to do is get the shot and registration and ID confirmation is already taken cared of earlier in the line.
Governor Asa Hutchinson made an appearance at the clinic. Cork says Hutchinson seemed pleased with what they were able to deliver for the state and its citizens that day. He spoke to folks getting their vaccine, some of the volunteers as well as health care professionals administering the vaccine.
Now, those who received their vaccines Friday are set to get their second dose on March 26th and Cork says they plan to use all 3,000 doses that day as well.