Benton County and Collier Drug Stores plan to fully vaccinate 10,000 people against covid-19 in a series of clinics they'll co-host over the next 13 weeks, according to Michael Waddle, director of emergency management for the county.
The first of 13 weekly clinics will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Benton County Fairgrounds and is already full, according to a news release from the county.
The clinics will offer the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses three weeks apart. The county and Collier will give 1,000 first doses at each of the first 10 clinics and 1,000 second doses each week beginning with the fourth clinic, Waddle said.
"We are excited to be working with Collier Drug Stores to provide this clinic to our community," Waddle said in the news release. "This is one step closer to getting out of this pandemic and getting back to somewhat of a normal life."
Appointments are required. Residents who wish to make an appointment may call (479) 935-4316 and leave their number, date of birth, county of residence and their full name, which they should spell out. People may also make appointments online. The county plans to post links on social media and the Northwest Arkansas Council's vaccine calendar on its website.
Mercy Health System will be able to give 1,000 vaccine doses each weekday starting Monday, according to a news release from the system. Mercy began allowing anyone eligible to get vaccinated Feb. 17 at its Springdale clinic.
"As the state has increased the supply of vaccine, Mercy has been able to steadily increase the number of patients scheduled and plans to continue to offer more daily appointments as the state expands eligibility," the release states.
Mercy planned to give 23,000 vaccine doses, including first and second doses, by the end of the day Friday, according to Jennifer Cook, spokeswoman. Vaccine appointments are available 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Washington Regional Medical System had given 22,324 doses as of the end of Thursday, according to Cynthia Crowder, spokeswoman. Northwest Health System had given 34,000 doses as of Friday, according to Aimee Morrell, spokeswoman.
Benton and Washington counties had 47,802 residents fully vaccinated against covid-19 as of Thursday, while another 45,687 had received the first of two doses, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
The two counties have a combined population of 384,234 residents 16 and older, so about 12.4% of that group have been fully vaccinated while about 11.9% are halfway there.
The Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are being used in Arkansas. The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people 16 and older while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for people 18 and older. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses while the Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine requires one dose.
Benton and Washington counties had 310 new virus cases from March 20 through Friday including 152 cases in Benton County and 158 cases in Washington County, according to the Health Department.
Washington County had 30,121 cumulative cases Friday, according to the Health Department. The county had 187 active cases Friday including 119 confirmed and 68 probable cases.
Benton County had 28,042 cumulative cases Friday. The county had 235 active cases Friday including 142 confirmed and 93 probable cases.
Rogers Public Schools had 18 active cases as of Thursday, according to the Health Department. Springdale had 13 active cases, and Bentonville had nine. Fayetteville Public Schools was not on the department's report, which means it has fewer than five cases or no cases. The district reported last week it had no known active cases for the first time since it began tracking them in August.
Northwest Arkansas hospitals had a total of 14 patients in their covid-19 units as of Thursday, according to a joint statement from the region's largest health care organizations via Martine Pollard, spokeswoman for Mercy Health System. The record for most hospitalizations in the region on a single day was 140 patients Jan. 8.
Both antigen tests and polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests are used to test for covid-19. Antigen tests produce faster results, are generally used only on people with symptoms of the virus and have a higher chance of giving false-negative results. Antigen and most PCR tests are done via nasal swabs.
A total of 216,668 PCR tests and 28,365 antigen tests have been done on Benton County residents, while 226,014 PCR tests and 43,041 antigen tests have been done on Washington County residents, according to the Health Department.
Who can get vaccinated?
• Phase 1-A: Health care workers; long-term care residents and staff; first responders
Phase 1-B: Residents 65 and older; education workers, including K-12, higher education and child care; food manufacturing workers; grocery store workers; nursery, garden center and farm supply store workers; agriculture workers; government workers and public officials; solid waste/trash collection workers; water and wastewater workers; legal counsel
• Phase 1-C: Residents 16 to 64 with health conditions that increase their risk to covid-19; essential workers in areas that include energy, finance, food service, law, media, information technology and communications, public health and human services, public safety, shelter and housing and transportation and logistics; people living in high-risk settings, including those who are incarcerated or detained; those living in group homes, congregate settings, or crowded housing; and student housing such as dorms and Greek housing
Source: Arkansas Department of Health