FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Children 12 and older can now get a Pfizer covid-19 vaccine, and local health officials encourage parents to take advantage of an ample supply.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday adopted an advisory committee’s endorsement of use of the vaccine for children ages 12 through 15. People 16 and older already could receive the Pfizer shot.
The CDC is still recommending doses of the Moderna and single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines go to adults 18 and older. However, the Pfizer shot is in ample supply, including in Northwest Arkansas.
Ryan Cork with the Health Care Transformation Division of the Northwest Arkansas Council said he hopes opening the pool of eligible Pfizer recipients will bring demand back up. For weeks, the council has seen a drop in the number of people seeking a vaccine at its mass clinics. The council now is only hosting a Friday clinic at J.B. Hunt Transport Service headquarters in Lowell after shutting down weekly clinics at the Northwest Arkansas Mall because of low turnout.
The council likely will expand the hours of the Lowell clinic so children don’t have to leave school and parents don’t have to miss work, Cork said. The council also will work with any organizations on outreach or to help get youth or anyone else vaccinated, he said.
“Our goal is we want to vaccinate as many people as we can, but we also want to educate as many people as we can,” Cork said. “For us, that’s just as important.”
Washington Regional Medical Center has a hotline for anyone to call with questions related to the vaccine. A medical professional will answer 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The number is (479) 463-2055.
The Fayetteville Board of Health met Wednesday with a mix of online and in-person participants at City Hall. Marti Sharkey, the city’s public health officer, is working with the School District and Medical Arts Pharmacy to get Pfizer vaccines available at schools to reach the younger age group, she said.
More than 1.5 million children ages 12 to 17 have been diagnosed with covid-19 since March 2020 and more than 13,000 have been hospitalized, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“The known risk of the virus versus the potential side effects of the vaccine — that scale very much tips in favor of getting vaccinated,” Sharkey said.
Children also can spread the virus to those who aren’t vaccinated, including other children, Sharkey said. Generally speaking, children experience less severe symptoms than adults if they get covid-19, but that’s not always the case, she said.
“You never know when it’s your child who is going to have a severe case of covid and have to be life-flighted to Little Rock,” said Sharkey, who is a pediatrician. “We’ve had to send children on helicopters from Northwest Arkansas to Little Rock due to covid in these young age groups. It is not a completely benign illness.”
As of Wednesday, 69,624, or 34%, of residents 16 and older in Benton County were fully vaccinated. Additionally, 20,821, or about 10%, had received a first dose only of Pfizer or Moderna, according to Arkansas Department of Health data.
In Washington County, 61,478, or 34%, of residents 16 and older were fully vaccinated. Nearly 11%, or 19,312, had one shot only.
In the state, about 35% or 822,457 residents 16 and older were fully vaccinated and about 10% or 246,104 had gotten a first shot.
The Northwest Arkansas Council has launched a survey to understand why residents may be hesitant to get a vaccine. The results will help health officials target messaging and educate the population, Cork said.
The survey can be found at nwacouncil.org/vaccine-survey .
Benton County had 251 active covid-19 cases Wednesday, according to the Department of Health. Washington County had 177.
So far, covid-19 has killed 765 people in the two counties.
Where to get vaccinated
Arkansans can call (800) 985-6030 for appointment information. The following pharmacies and health care organizations in Northwest Arkansas are providing vaccines:
• Cornerstone Pharmacy, 1 Mercy Way, Suite 50, Bella Vista, (479) 876-6200
• Harps Pharmacy, 1209 N. Walton Blvd., Bentonville, (479) 273-5541
• Heartland Pharmacy, 1735 W. Walnut St., Rogers, (479) 631-0204; heartland-rx.com
• Debbie’s Family Pharmacy, 5403 Pinnacle Point Drive, Rogers, (479) 271-6300; debbiesfamilypharmacy.com
• Austin Drug, 118 Main St. N.E., Gravette, (479) 787-5432
• Teasley Drug, 205 Atlanta S.E., Gravette, (479) 787-5966; teasleydrug.com
• Collier Drug, 991 W. Centerton Blvd., Centerton, (479) 795-8199; collierdrug.com
• Harps Pharmacy, 201 Hwy. 412 West, Siloam Springs, (479) 549-3200
• Collier Drug, 100 W. Dickson, Fayetteville, (479) 442-6262; collierdrug.com
• Medical Arts Pharmacy, 2515 E. Huntsville Road, Fayetteville, (479) 443-3411; medartspharmacynwa.com
• Heartland Pharmacy, 1450 E. Zion Road Suite 1, Fayetteville, (479) 444-7200; heartland-rx.com
• Community Pharmacy, 400 W. Emma Ave., Springdale, (479) 750-2220; communitypharmacyspringdale.com
• Harps Pharmacy, 2894 W. Sunset Ave., Springdale, (479) 751-0882
• Heartland Pharmacy, 701 S. Thompson St., Springdale, (479) 751-2072; heartland-rx.com
• Collier Drug, 197 E. Main St., Farmington, (479) 267-4303; collierdrug.com
• Collier Drug, 801 E. Douglas, Prairie Grove, (479) 846-2195; collierdrug.com
• Harps Pharmacy, 115 Lee St., Huntsville, (479) 738-2202
• Mercy Clinic, patients may make appointments at mercy.net/VaccineAR or by calling (833) 364-6777.
• Washington Regional Medical System, patients may make appointments online at www.wregional.com/covid19vaccine .
• People ages 16-21 can get vaccinated at Arkansas Childrens Northwest. Patients or parents may make appointments by calling (479) 725-6995.
• Pharmacies at most Walmart, Sam’s Club and Walgreens stores are offering vaccinations. Go to walmart.com/ covidvaccine, samsclub.com/covid or bit.ly/walgreensvax to check availability.
Source: Arkansas Department of Health, Mercy Health System, Washington Regional Medical System, Walmart, Walgreens