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Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution underway in Arkansas



PINE BLUFF, Ark. — It’s been almost one week since the Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrived in our state and many are wondering where they can get their hands on the one dose shot, but it could be a while until it is widely available at pharmacies.

According to the Department of Health, there are 20 pharmacies in the state of Arkansas that have their hands on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Doctor’s Orders Pharmacy in Pine Bluff is one of the 20 and owner Lelan Stice said those shots won’t be going into arms until next week.

“Well, we were a little shocked. We didn’t know we were getting it,” he said.

When the Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrived at Stice’s pharmacy last week it came as a surprise.

“It was requested by the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in order to do their vaccines out there,” he said.

Doctor’s Orders Pharmacy did the university’s vaccine clinic about a month ago, so the 400 J&J doses they received will first go to the rest of UAPB’s staff on Monday, March 15, according to Stice.

“After we complete the clinic for UAPB, we’re going to set up a clinic specially for Johnson & Johnson,” he said.

Stice said the details for the other clinic are still unknown since they don’t know how many doses will be left and they aren’t sure if they’ll be receiving anymore.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine takes much longer to manufacture than the Moderna or the Pfizer, so it’s a much slower lead time on getting that vaccine shipped,” he said.

It’s a similar story across the state.

Clarksville Family Pharmacy received 100 doses last week, but according to owner Ward Lee, most of them will go to staff at the University of the Ozarks.

“The excitement somewhat tempered with that because we don’t know how many doses we will actually have for the community itself,” he said.

Lee said they’ll be giving the one-dose shot to about 75 to 90 staff members on March 18, but he said many in his community are eager to know when it’s their turn.

“They’re holding out waiting for that to happen, so distribution has been somewhat slow of the anticipation of being able to take one shot,” he said.

Both Stice and Lee said once they are done with the clinics they are doing at those particular schools, then they will have to see if they have any extra doses to give out to the community.

They also both added what public health officials have been preaching from the beginning, get the first shot you can.

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