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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04)

December 18, 2020

Weekly Columns

In an incredible testament to American innovation and ingenuity, we now have a vaccine for COVID-19 that is headed to every state. President Trump and the administration’s Operation Warp Speed backed our brightest scientists, and they developed, tested and produced a safe and effective vaccine in record time. It’s encouraging to see some light at the end of a very long year.

Of course, there’s a lot that needs to happen before the vaccine is widely accessible to every American. I know a lot of you have questions about what the process entails, the vaccine’s safety and when it will be available for everyone. The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) has already proposed a phased approach to vaccine distribution, although it’s important to note that this is always subject to change based on vaccine supply. The current plan is broken down into three phases. Phase 1 (limited vaccine availability) will target high-priority groups. Phase 1-A (December 2020) will focus on health care workers in high-exposure settings and long-term care residents, Phase 1-B (January-February 2021) will focus on essential workers, and Phase 1-C (February-March 2021) will focus on folks with increased risk of severe disease and those who reside in congregate settings. Phase 2 (increased vaccine availability) will begin distributing the vaccine to the general population. Phase 3 (widespread vaccine availability) will complete the distribution to all persons needing vaccination.

The vaccine will be free and available to everyone, whether or not you are insured. Hospitals and local pharmacies will be administering the vaccine during the initial distribution phases. Other pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens and Walmart will assist in later phases. As a reminder, these first-available vaccines will require two doses, three to four weeks apart.

It’s been a difficult few months for many Americans, but the vaccine is remarkable progress. I encourage you to continue learning more about it through ADH’s website or by calling my office at (501) 609-9796. We are all in this together, and I’ll continue updating you as we learn more information.