Weekly Address – January 7, 2021

From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our great nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.

Arkansas has gotten a limited supply of vaccinations against the Covid-19 virus, which means that health officials are having to prioritize who is to receive the first doses.

Health care workers on the front lines, as well as staff and residents of long-term care facilities are in the highest priority group, known as Phase 1-A.

Also, the governor has ordered that police, firefighters and other first responders receive the highest priority in getting the covid-19 vaccine.

They are getting the first round of vaccinations, and by the end of January this entire group should be vaccinated.

If you work in health care and are in Phase 1-A, you should have received a letter from the state Epidemiologist, Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, outlining the process.

If you work at a large hospital, you’ll get your shots there. The top priority is staff of the 18 largest hospitals with the highest volume of Covid-19 patients. Those hospitals will receive doses of vaccine directly.

If you work in a small hospitals you will be vaccinated through a community pharmacy. These pharmacies may perform vaccinations themselves or they may transfer doses of COVID-19 vaccine to your hospital, and then hospital staff can vaccinate their employees.

But if you work in a pharmacy, a clinic or another type of health care organization, then you’ll get vaccinated at one of the 140 community pharmacies where doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine are available.

In Crittenden County, that will be the Walmart pharmacy at 798 West Service Road in West Memphis. In Lee County it is Dean’s Pharmacy at 311 Chestnut Street in Marianna.

In Phillips County it will be the Hickory Hill Pharmacy in Helena, at 109 Hickory Hill, and in St. Francis County it is the Palestine Family Pharmacy at 411 Main Street in Palestine.

If you work in a long-term care facility, you’ll probably get your shots when the pharmacy schedules vaccinations for the residents. If you are unable to be vaccinated at your place of work, contact one of the community pharmacies.

The top 1-A priority for long-term care facility workers includes people who work at nursing homes, assisted living centers or other intermediate care facilities.

Also in the top priority level are staff of primary care physicians, urgent care clinics, university health facilities, school nurses and aides, dental clinics, pharmacies, home health care, dialysis centers, blood donation centers, emergency technicians, paramedics and transport of patients.

However, due to the initial limited supplies, the Health Department is asking that you wait until February to be vaccinated if you are not in direct care of patients.

Phase 1-B is the next level of priority and it includes essential workers. They include day care workers, teachers and school staff in K-12 and higher education, workers in the food industry, such as in meat packing and grocery stores, correctional officers and staff, people who work in utilities, truck drivers, and essential government and infrastructure workers.

The next level is 1-C, and people in this category also can get vaccinated at community pharmacies. They include adults of any age who have chronic health conditions and adults aged 65 years and older. This category also includes people who live in congregate settings.

No matter which priority level applies to you, the vaccine will not cost you anything out of pocket because the federal government is paying for it. If you have health insurance, your carrier will be billed for administrative costs.

There are all types of rumors and misinformation floating around. The bottom line is that you should get vaccinated when the opportunity arises.

It may take a few months before there are enough vaccinations available for everyone to get one, but we have been battling this pandemic for almost a year now, so this is not the time to throw in the towel.

If we work together, and pay attention to doctors and health experts, we can beat this thing. It’s just a matter of time.

From the Capitol, it is always my greatest honor and most sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Keith Ingram.

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