Clinics aim to make covid-19 vaccination easy for Northwest Arkansas residents
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Organizers hope more clinics will prompt more people to get a covid-19 vaccine shot with the power of convenience.
Walmart has started clinics for the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to residents 18 and older with its mobile wellness trucks.
A truck will be set up at St. James Baptist Church in Fayetteville noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Shots will be given by appointment only. Call (833) 886-0023 to register.
Some clinics will operate daily. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Northwest is offering appointments at its drive-through Pfizer vaccine clinic 10 a.m. to 5:40 p.m. Monday through Friday at its annex location at Woolsey Avenue and North Street in Fayetteville.
Demand is increasing, said Dr. Sharon Reece, lead physician for the clinic. Organizers encourage residents to register to avoid wasting doses, she said. Anyone 16 and older can schedule an appointment. A photo ID is required. Those receiving a shot don’t have to be U.S. citizens or have health insurance. Spanish and Marshallese translators are available on-site.
The clinic is averaging about 100 Pfizer shots a day, Reece said. The first event was April 1. Starting next week, the university plans to give out about 200 doses a day in Northwest Arkansas, she said.
The idea is to provide a reliable clinic at the same times every day that people can expect, Reece said.
“It’s a bit of a juggling act. But we do try to be accommodating whenever possible,” she said.
Veterans can get a Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday at Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville, at the primary care entrance. On Saturdays, veterans can get a vaccine at the Building 21 laboratory area. No appointment is necessary.
Benton County and Collier Drug Store will host their third clinic at the Benton County Fairgrounds auditorium 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The county’s clinic administered more than 2,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine at its first two events, said Michael Waddle, Benton County emergency manager. The goal is to inject 10,000 arms in about 10 weeks, he said.
People are asked to register for the clinic beforehand. A link is posted at the county’s Facebook page at facebook.com/BentonCountyAR, or residents can call (479) 935-4316 to set up an appointment.
Registering beforehand makes it easier to manage the flow of shots, but people who show up without registering will be accepted, Waddle said. Registering also cuts down on potential wait time, he said.
The first two vaccination events filled up spots within hours, Waddle said. He suspected people coming through in the coming weeks likely will have more questions than those who signed up immediately. Physicians will be available, he said.
Groups such as churches also can set up blocks of time to get their members vaccinated all at once, Waddle said.
The Northwest Arkansas Council will host another round of clinics in Benton and Washington counties this week. A Thursday walk-in clinic will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the former Sears service center at the Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville. Another clinic will be 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at Building C of the J.B. Hunt Headquarters in Lowell.
The council held two clinics at the same locations last week and administered more than 2,200 doses.
The council plans to administer 5,000 Pfizer shots every week for 10 weeks. The hope is to keep the vaccination rate in Northwest Arkansas at or above the state average, said Ryan Cork, executive director of the council’s Health Care Transformation Division.
Benton and Washington counties had 71,550 residents fully vaccinated against covid-19 as of Friday, while another 57,774 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 19% of that group have been fully vaccinated while about 15% are halfway there.
By comparison, 523,894 people in the state have been fully vaccinated, with 358,454 halfway there. That equates to 22% fully vaccinated and 15% with one of two doses among more than 2.3 million people 16 and older in the state.
Washington County had 157 new virus cases from April 3 through Friday. Benton County had 141 new cases.
Washington County had 185 active cases Friday. Benton County had 201.
So far, covid-19 has killed 753 people in the two counties, according to Health Department data.
Anyone 16 and older can receive the Pfizer shot. The Northwest Arkansas Council asks 16- and 17-year-olds get consent from a parent or guardian.
The council is considering expanding hours of the clinics into the evening to accommodate residents’ work schedules and having clinics on Saturdays, Cork said. Registration is requested, but walk-ins are accepted as well, he said.
“Making it as uncomplicated as possible is our goal,” Cork said.