School staff receive vaccinations in Mountain Home, Ark. as Phase 1-B starts

Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 9:55 PM CST
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MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (KY3) - Teachers, school staff and childcare providers received vaccinations in Baxter County on Monday as Arkansas officially launched Phase 1-B.

Many of those to receive vaccines at Baxter Regional Medical Center had been eagerly waiting for some time to finally be able to get their vaccinations during this next phase.

“Linda did an amazing job, didn’t even feel it,” Mountain Home Special Education Supervisor Gwen Benton said after she received her shot.

For educators and school staff like Benton, a load of anticipation has surrounded this shot.

”There’s been times where we’ve been hit hard with COVID, and I want do my part to protect our staff and students and our community, she said.”

The message from many vaccinated Monday was the same; it is not about them.

”There’s nothing that compares to having students in person and so that’s why this vaccine is so important,” Benton said. “ [It is] So we can all be back in person doing what’s best for kids.”

Monday’s round of vaccines at Baxter Regional Medical Center was limited to Mountain Home school staff and childcare providers. While those 70 and older are eligible during this current phase, hospital staff said there currently is not enough yet.

”We know we have several thousand individuals who want vaccination, and really they’re eligible beginning today, we just don’t have the supply to get to them immediately,” Jonny Harvey with Baxter Regional Medical Center said Monday.

Supply has been one of the biggest challenges in Arkansas and across the country.

”Even though we are moving to this larger group, we are not yet receiving a larger amount of vaccine in Arkansas,” Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the Arkansas Department of Health said.

Baxter Regional Medical Center expects to get more doses Tuesday even then, they know it all comes down to managing supply and demand.

”We know we need to get those out as quickly as possible, but in a very controlled and fair manner,” Harvey said. “Hopefully we will be able to get additional thousands of doses from Governor Hutchinson, Arkansas Department of health.”

Hospital staff said they hope to transition to large clinic events when the time comes, something requiring community wide efforts.

”We can continue to work with our pharmacies in the area and our college and our other community resources to hopefully get these vaccinations completed relatively quickly with the 70 plus population,” Benton said.

Baxter Regional Medical center has requested thousands of Pfizer vaccines in the meantime.

Monday was the final day for Mountain Home school staff to get vaccinated with current supply at Baxter Regional Medical Center. On Friday, more vaccines will be given at Arkansas State University Mountain Home to more teachers, childcare providers and school staff .

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