FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – More Northwest Arkansas residents are getting vaccinated against covid-19 as more health care organizations offer appointments and mass clinics for the community.
Benton and Washington counties had 29,915 residents fully vaccinated against covid-19 as of Thursday, while another 54,730 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 7.7% of that group have been fully vaccinated while about 14.2% 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 J&J vaccines are approved for people 18 and older.
Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. The federal government approved the J&J Janssen vaccine last week and it requires only one dose. The Janssen is about 66% effective against covid-19 compared to Pfizer’s 95% effectiveness and Moderna’s 94% effectiveness, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health care workers, nursing home staff and residents, school and college employees, people 65 and older and food manufacturing workers are eligible to receive vaccines now.
Community Clinic, which has several medical clinics throughout the region, will likely receive its first shipment of vaccines this week, said Judd Semingson, chief executive officer of Community Clinic.
Community Health Centers of Arkansas announced two weeks ago that Community Clinic will be the first in the state to receive covid-19 vaccines as part of a new federal distribution plan designed to reach vulnerable populations. Community Clinic serves nearly 40,000 patients, more than half of whom are Hispanic. About 3,000 of its patients are Marshallese, according to Community Health Centers.
Semingson expects to receive about 300 doses a week at first and for that to eventually increase. The plan is to offer the vaccines by appointment only and not have wait-lists. Community Clinic will follow the state’s phased plan and offer vaccines to anyone in groups deemed eligible by the state. Vaccines will at first be offered at the medical clinic on Emma Avenue in Springdale and eventually at other clinics in the region, Semingson said.
Community Clinic expects to receive Moderna vaccines but also has the capability to store the Pfizer vaccine, which must be frozen, he said.
More than 1,300 people received their first doses of the vaccine during an event Thursday at the Bella Vista Fire Department, according to a news release from the city. The event targeted Bella Vista residents but was open to anyone eligible.
About 706,700 doses had been given in Arkansas as of Friday, according to the state Health Department. The data includes first and second doses.
Washington Regional Medical System and Mercy Health System are both allowing eligible groups to make vaccine appointments. Northwest Health System will host drive-through appointment-only vaccination events Monday and Tuesday at its Springdale hospital.
Northwest Health System had completed more than 19,000 doses as of Thursday, according to Aimee Morrell, spokeswoman. Mercy Health System had completed 11,886 doses. The data for both systems includes first and second doses.
Washington Regional Medical System had given 14,044 doses, including 8,332 first doses and 5,712 second doses, through the end of the day Thursday, according to Natalie Hardin, spokeswoman.
School districts in the region began vaccinating employees about six weeks ago.
Fayetteville Public Schools has 80%, or 1,168, of its estimated 1,460 employees fully vaccinated, said Alan Wilbourn, spokesman. The district expects that to increase over the next week.
The Springdale School District has at least 1,963 employees who have received a vaccine, according to Trent Jones, spokesman for the district. At least 1,425 employees are fully vaccinated. The district employs 2,952 people and doesn’t track how many employees may have received vaccines elsewhere.
A total of 992 Rogers Public Schools employees had received at least their first dose through the district’s vaccination events as of Feb. 26 with nearly 400 employees fully vaccinated, according to Ashley Siwiec, spokeswoman for the district. Siwiec said Friday morning more employees were expected to be vaccinated throughout Friday and Saturday. The district has 2,063 employees and doesn’t track how many employees may have received vaccines elsewhere.
Bentonville Public Schools employees had received 1,310 first doses and 602 second doses as of Feb. 26, according to Janet Schwanhausser, deputy superintendent. The district’s next vaccination event is scheduled Friday. The district employs 2,364 people.
The Bentonville School District had 37 active cases as of Thursday, according to the Health Department. Rogers had 18 active cases, and Springdale had 25. Fayetteville had 10 active cases. Active cases are those that have not recovered or died.
Covid-19 cases in Northwest Arkansas increased about 530 in the past week, according to the Health Department. Benton County had 293 new cases Feb. 27 through Friday, according to Danyelle McNeill, spokeswoman for the department. Washington County had 243 new cases.
Washington County had 29,511 cumulative cases Friday, according to the Health Department. The county had 314 active cases Friday including 202 confirmed and 112 probable cases.
Benton County had 27,405 cumulative cases Friday. The county had 439 active cases Friday including 294 confirmed and 145 probable cases.
Hospitals in Northwest Arkansas had a total of 26 patients in their covid-19 units as of Tuesday, 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.