By Haley Hale
Arkansas Department of Health public information director Gavin Lesnick said that vaccinations are “allocated so that every county gets some of the supply.” Lesnick said he did not know if the severity of a COVID-19 outbreak in a county would affect the vaccine distribution decisions.
On Jan. 9, total cases in Washington County peaked at 2,465 total active cases. Cases have been steadily declining since that date. As a comparison, March 9 reported 296 active cases.
The percent of the population vaccinated also contributes to vaccine allocations. “A county with an average vaccination rate would likely not get extra doses in a given week,” Lesnik said.
The state also looks at the vaccine distribution by county demographics. If one county is behind in vaccinations for one group, they might decide to distribute more vaccine to make up for the shortfall.
John Luther, director of Washington County Emergency Management, said that the county is working very hard to get out more vaccines. Hospitals and pharmacies are doing a great job of getting the vaccines out as they get them, he said.
Dr. Huda Sharaf, medical director of the Pat Walker Health Center and member of the Fayetteville Board of Health, said that the introduction of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine “would be a game changer” as its single dose vaccine would only add to existing supplies.
Johnson & Johnson was granted emergency use authorization for their one dose COVID-19 vaccine. This would be the third vaccine available in the United States. It has proven to be 85% effective in preventing severe illness. Both vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna consist of two doses taken three weeks and one month apart respectively.