State still working to get shots in arms

Saif Fiaz, a third-year medical student at NYITCOM at Arkansas State University, administers a COVID-19 vaccine at a free clinic the medical school recently held in Pocahontas. A clinic also was held this week in Batesville.

The urgency of getting vaccines out to Arkansas residents, and addressing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine issues, were the focus of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s weekly COVID-19 update and news conference held Tuesday.

Arkansas and other states are temporarily stopping the administration of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine while a federal review is being conducted.

And while the Arkansas Department of Health says vaccination clinics with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are canceled, clinics offering the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines continue as planned.

A drive-through Covid Vaccine Clinic has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 27, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at George Kell Park, Fairgrounds Road, in Newport.

The vaccines will be available for any adult age 18 and older. The vaccines are free for everyone. Those with insurance are asked to bring their insurance card. The clinic is being sponsored by ARCare and the Jackson County Extension Service with the cooperation of volunteer agencies.

For more information about this clinic, call the Jackson County Extension office at (870) 523-7450.

Other area clinics scheduled include one today at Shady Grove Baptist Church, 85 West Front St., in Parkin from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. One Tuesday, April 20, at the McCrory Civic Center-The Warehouse, 103 North Edmonds Ave., in McCrory from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. A vaccine clinic also is set for April 28 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Dondie’s Parking Lot, 203 East Curran St., in Des Arc.

“We respect the CDC decision and the White House recommendation on a short pause and we will follow that in Arkansas,” Hutchinson said, regarding Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Tuesday. “We will continue our vaccination program uninterrupted. It continues at a rapid pace, and no one should delay getting a vaccination because of the pause on one part of the vaccination. We have the supply, currently on hand in Arkansas to meet the demand needs of our state.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration stated Tuesday that they were investigating unusual blood clots that occurred six to 13 days after vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S., the vast majority with no side effects or only mild side effects.

Hutchinson said the state has confidence in the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but said it is on pause from being distributed to be sure the medical community has the right information on treatments for any adverse reaction to that particular vaccine.

Hutchinson also announced a Vaccine Call Line that has been set up by the state to identify the best place for the caller to go to get a COVID-19 vaccination, or if homebound, the state is working on being able to deliver vaccinations to people at home. The phone number is 1-800-985-6030.

Hutchinson noted that sometimes there is a reluctance among those who have had their first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, to get their second dose. He said the state also will be contacting people who are due for a second vaccine but haven’t gotten it yet to remind them to do so.

There were 224 new COVID-19 cases reported in the state Tuesday from the Arkansas Department of Health. Total cases in the state to date are 332,446. There are 1,663 active cases of COVID-19 in the state, and there have been 5,673 deaths due to the virus since the pandemic began.

Here are Northeast Arkansas COVID-19 cases by county through Tuesday:

Jackson – 2,433 confirmed, 777 probable (both unchanged); 1 active cases (down 1); 23 confirmed deaths, 15 probable.

Craighead – 11,426 confirmed (up 5 from Monday), 1,737 probable (unchanged), 75 active cases (unchanged); 158 confirmed deaths, 19 probable.

Greene – 4,811 confirmed (up 4), 1,237 probable (unchanged); 34 active (down 1); 63 confirmed deaths, 12 probable.

Lawrence – 1,671 confirmed, 404 probable (both unchanged); 6 active (unchanged); 39 confirmed deaths, 4 probable.

Poinsett – 2,728 confirmed (up 4), 402 probable (unchanged); 14 active (up 1); 61 confirmed deaths, 15 probable.

Mississippi – 5,138 confirmed (up 1), 641 probable (up 1); 25 active cases (unchanged); 90 confirmed deaths, 16 probable.

Randolph – 1,580 confirmed (up 2), 492 probable (unchanged); 11 active cases (unchanged); 35 confirmed deaths, 12 probable.

Cross – 1,506 confirmed (up 1), 428 probable (unchanged); 11 active cases (down 2); 46 confirmed deaths, 3 probable.

Clay – 1,332 confirmed (up 1), 397 probable (unchanged); 6 active cases (up 1); 36 confirmed deaths, 14 probable.

Paxton News Bureau and The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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