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Arkansas’ COVID-19 vaccination rate reaches 50%

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 6:15 PM CDT
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - The state of Arkansas’s COVID-19 vaccination rate hit the 50% mark. Health leaders say it is a sign of progress, yet shy of the goal of 70% fully vaccinated.

Arkansas is among several states working to combat a summer surge in cases, but in recent weeks active cases seem to shifting.

”The good news is cases are definitely trending down, for the county we were as high at one point as 450 cases,” said Stephanie Free, a nurse at Baxter Regional Medical Center. “As far as hospitalizations, of course, you know that’s always a lagging indicator behind the active cases, but those are going down as well.”

Free explains the number of patients on ventilators is another lagging factor behind hospitalizations. It can be misleading as a majority of those patients are unvaccinated and remain on a ventilator for an extended period of time.

”We want to bring on new beds in September, to meet any additional needs that will be out there,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson.

Hutchinson appeared on ‘Meet the Press’ this weekend, where he explained the battle Arkansas has had to fight against vaccine hesitation.

”We did see a spike for increase in vaccinations following Food and Drug Administration approval,” said Sammie Cribbs, Chief Operating Officer for North Arkansas Regional Medical Center. “Our job is to provide and promote vaccination opportunities as much as possible.”

Yet hurdles remain, such as limited ventilator availability as well as ICU beds.

”Patients are on a ventilator for a very long time,” Free explained. “We’ve had patients, unfortunately, who have been on a ventilator for nearly a month.”

Another concern is pediatric cases, especially as schools look to remove masking mandates.

”I hope that when the mask mandates go down and they just start recommending masks due to the decrease in cases, that the cases continue to see that downward trend,” said Free. “It may be that, when those masks come off in the classroom, those numbers may go up as well, so its definitely something that we need to look at.“

”Stay home if you’re sick and get tested as quick as you can if you’re feeling ill and then allow your provider to provide care at that point,” said Cribbs

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