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Crawford County pharmacies busy administering vaccines

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
Four pharmacies in Crawford County are administering COVID-19 vaccines. The pharmacies have waiting lists for eligible patients but don't know how many vaccines they will receive with each shipment. MediSav pharmacist Kelly Rappeport is seen here giving a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to pharmacy tech Brandy Steele, Jan. 5 in Fort Smith.

Four pharmacies in Crawford County are administering vaccines for COVID-19. The pharmacies have waiting lists for eligible patients but don't know how many vaccines they will receive with each shipment.

Coleman Pharmacy of Alma, Hudson Pharmacy Van Buren, Pharmacy Express Van Buren, and Price Cutter Pharmacy Van Buren are all currently administering vaccines. 

Kelly Barlow, owner of Pharmacy Express in Van Buren, said they are extremely busy administering vaccines. Arkansas is currently in its first phase of distribution. Phase 1-A focused on high priority groups like medical workers and first responders.

"We have most of 1-A taken care of," said Barlow. 

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Phase 1-B began on Jan. 18 and pharmacies are currently administering vaccines to Arkansans aged 70 or older and education workers. "We've gotten most of the teachers in the area taken care of," said Barlow.

Phase 1-C is estimated to begin in April, but as of Jan. 31, Phase 1B is still in its early stages. As education workers and people over the age of 70 are taken care of, the state will allow for frontline essential workers to receive the vaccine. This includes Agricultural workers, manufacturing workers, public transit, and firefighters and police not in phase 1-A. 

"Nobody has any idea when we will be finished," said Barlow about phase 1-B. "We don't even know week to week how many vaccines we will get." Since vaccine production is still in its early stages distribution can vary in number. The Arkansas Department of Health estimates that vaccine doses will begin to increase in April, but still be limited. 

Barlow says that there are still 1,000 to 1,500 people still on Pharmacy Express's waiting list, and they could be booked up until May. 

According to a press release from Harps Food Stores, all of their pharmacies are booked until the end of February. There are 440,000 people eligible in the current phase and only 30,000 doses of the vaccine come into the state each week.

Since Dec. 14 the ADH says that 241,466 doses have been given and 422,875 have been received. That leaves 181,409 doses currently ready to be administered across the state. CVS and Walgreens are part of a federal program that has allocated 49,400 vaccines in the state; 9,630 of those have been administered.