The State of Arkansas has received its first shipment of a newly approved COVID-19 vaccine, according to state officials.
On Monday morning, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced via Twitter that the state had received its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine. He said that the shipment arrived at 8:10 a.m. on Dec. 14.
Additional vaccine units are expected to arrive later today, according to Hutchinson. He did not specify the amount of doses the state had received.
All of these vaccine doses have been earmarked for healthcare workers.
On Friday, Dec. 11, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine be used in individuals 16 years and older under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield accepted the committee’s recommendation on Saturday, allowing the vaccine’s rollout to move forward.
The first vaccine shipments will be coming from Pfizer’s Kalamazoo, Mich. Facility, and will be distributed by the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agencies to “government-designated facilities” around the United States. According to a CNN report, the vaccines must be stored in specially built freezers to maintain the vaccines at -94 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a recent primetime address, Hutchinson said that the first vaccine rounds in Arkansas will be designated for healthcare workers, followed by long-term care facility residents and workers. He said that vaccine distribution will continue to be prioritized “until it is widely available.”
“It is my belief that the determination and ingenuity of our pharmaceutical industry combined with the support of our federal partners will result in universal distribution in historic and record time. It may be late spring before everyone in Arkansas has access to a vaccine, but we will get to that point, and if we all do our part, we will beat this silent killer together. There is hope and a bright day ahead,” Hutchinson said in his weekly address.
Another vaccine is currently awaiting authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Moderna has developed a COVID-19 vaccine that the FDA will be considering on Thursday, Dec. 17.