Good reporting in today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette by Lisa Hammersly on the mixed success of using private pharmacies as the backbone of COVID-19 vaccine delivery in Arkansas. Benjamin Hardy filed a similar report yesterday for the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network.
The rate of delivery varies widely. Availability of sufficiently staffed pharmacies is one key factor.
It is not a knock on drug stores to note this. It is worth noting the relatively high rate, more than 17 percent of people have had a shot in Pulaski County, where there are some first-rate pharmacy distribution setups along with mass delivery by Baptist Health and UAMS.
Mass delivery. That is the key. Governor Hutchinson has resisted this and declined to call National Guard to operate such efforts as some states have done. He said supply problems discourage this.
With three vaccines now approved for use and makers ramping up production, that shouldn’t continue to be an impediment. We must move faster, particularly since the governor has lifted pandemic health restrictions with predictable results. See the KARK report on the Benton restaurant packed with maskless customers and a 1.5-hour waiting line to get in.)
Following @AsaHutchinson’s announcement— restaurants across central Arkansas can begin operating at 100% capacity.
Manager at Texas Roadhouse in Benton says every seat is full and they’re on a 1.5 hour wait. #ARnews pic.twitter.com/mFM6E9wjg8
— Hunter Hoagland (@HunterHoagland) February 27, 2021
The Biden administration has made great strides, over-delivering on its promise of 1 million shots a day and invoking the defense production act to help get necessary components to manufacturers. His chief of staff’s mention of a national effort supported by the pending relief bill is hopeful. But as Ronald Klain notes, it’s not only about production. If we can call up the Guard for a Black Lives Matter march, why not for the 3 million lives that matter in Arkansas?
A lot of people on here looking at potential vax production numbers and equating it to vaccinations. One reason we need the American Rescue Plan is to fully fund to roll out of these vaccines — sites, vaccinators, etc; none of it is automatic.
— Ronald Klain (@WHCOS) February 28, 2021
It might be that the sight of thousands of Arkansans lined up at War Memorial Stadium to get shots in the public interest could encourage the pig-headed to get in line, too.
More shots also mean making more people eligible. (Which again argues for mass clinics.)
If restaurants are open to mass unmasked crowds, shouldn’t the front-line workers have access to shots? See this comment on the KARK report on packed restaurants.
The picture of the lone masked waitress encircled by shoulder to shoulder unmasked patrons – knowing she is not eligible for a vaccine yet and that she has to be there. That captures the spirit of Arkansas during this crisis more than anything I can imagine.
— John Pijanowski (@John_Pijanowski) February 27, 2021
And if the courts of Arkansas are ever to open fully again, shouldn’t vaccines be authorized for court workers? Criminal and civil cases are stacking up. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Here’s just one illustration of the gaps in delivery:
Where I’m at the pharmacies are simply handing out the consent forms you have to go through the mayor’s office to sign up for a shot and even with that they are still only vaccinating 70+-year-olds. Not essential workers, teachers, etc.
— Tina Morphis #KHive #Humanist #ForthePeople (@TinaMorphis) February 28, 2021
And here’s another:
My 80 y/o mom is on every waiting list there is—some for weeks—and nothing. We don’t even know if signing up (calling the pharmacy/leaving contact info) is all we’re supposed to do. I’ve contacted the mayor’s office and gotten no reply. 🤷♀️
— D. Gray🗽 (@DGray_2019) February 28, 2021
And here’s another point about access (which, it so happens, applies to the Republican effort to make it harder to vote absentee in Arkansas). Everybody isn’t wired. Many places don’t have ready outlets for demand or phone banks. We need a centralized means of signing up, as well as equitably distributed vaccination sites.
There’s a bunch of us over 70 that haven’t gotten the https://t.co/LDq0jy6eES have to have a computer or try like hell to get through on the phone.We feel like we’re at an auction and our hand isn’t high enough.A lot of people don’t have computers.
— Johnny Rickman (@JohnnyRickman14) February 26, 2021
Arkansas’s governor has decided to kiss off the dangers of spreading the disease on the very day the CDC issued a warning about letting up. At least the state could get serious about shots.
Vaccination numbers are improving, with the state reporting yesterday 26,000 shots in 24 hours. At that rate, 700,000 a month on top of the 629,000 given, we are still many months away from a percentage sufficient for herd immunity.