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Arkansas prepares for COVID vaccine authorization for young kids

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson urges COVID-19 and flu vaccination to avoid a "twindemic."

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — On Tuesday an FDA panel endorsed Pfizer's kid-sized doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 through 11. This moves the shot one step closer to emergency authorization; now expected sometime this week.

This news on top of already available COVID booster shots and flu vaccines is keeping pharmacies like Kavanaugh Pharmacy busy.

Pharmacist and Co-Owner of Kavanaugh Pharmacy Anne Pace shared, "We've just been doing shots all day of different types."

And as Pfizer's COVID vaccine for kids 5 to 11 moves closer to approval, they expect to get even busier.

"Hopefully we'll be able to get some vaccine [doses] quickly once it is approved so then we're able to get out and start vaccinating children," Pace added.

And at his weekly press briefing, Governor Asa Hutchinson said if the newest Pfizer dose gets approved, he's already working with the White House to plan for a smooth rollout.

"We're prepared for it. We're ready to go," Hutchinson said.

If the shots get the CDC recommendation, state leaders also hope to calm any hesitancy from parents.

Dr. Jose Romero, the Arkansas Secretary of Health shared at the briefing, "...this is a very safe vaccine, and it's essential for the well being of the children."

And as we enter flu season Hutchinson and Dr. Romero rolled up their sleeves to lead by example.

"We really want people to get their flu vaccine this year along with the COVID vaccine," Dr. Romero added.

This especially comes as health officials expect a more drastic flu season than normal; sharing data that shows a higher than average baseline for flu cases this early in the season.

"We don't want to have twindemics spike with both COVID and with the flu. We have that potential to happen this year, as we've done away with social distancing and masking," Dr. Romero said.

This all keeping pharmacies like Kavanaugh Pharmacy busier than ever as they offer COVID vaccines, COVID booster shots, flu vaccines, and high-dose flu vaccines for patients over 60 years old.

Pace shared that the flu shot and COVID booster are safe to receive at the same time.

Kavanaugh Pharmacy is also working with schools in an effort to create a smooth rollout if the Pfizer vaccine for young children gets approved.

More information on more locations that offer flu and COVID vaccines can be found on the state's Department of Health website.