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More Arkansans have access to COVID-19 vaccine with leftover dose waiting lists

According to the CDC, after a vial is opened or punctured, there is approximately six hours before the dose has to be discarded.

JOHNSON, Arkansas — With the high demand for COVID-19 vaccines, it’s rare that someone misses a scheduled appointment. But it does happen and leaves extra doses at the end of the day.

That leads to pharmacies and doctors calling Arkansans on their leftover vaccine waiting lists.

The Arkansas Department of Health says in the coming weeks, hopefully, it won't be as tough for Arkansans to schedule an appointment to receive the vaccine.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the ADH says the state is still on target to open up Phase 1-C by the beginning of April 2021. She anticipates there will be plenty of vaccines distributed across the state in the next few weeks for anyone who wants one.

“We do encourage everyone to have patience because we know that the production of the vaccines is going to ramp up,” Dr. Dillaha said.

RELATED: Where to get COVID-19 vaccine in Northwest Arkansas & River Valley

Right now, leftover vaccine waiting lists are giving those who are waiting for their turn to become eligible some hope. 

Fayetteville Health Director Dr. Marti Sharkey says getting shots into the arms of Arkansans is better than letting the vaccine go to waste.

“At the end of the day, the more people we have vaccinated the better. While we prefer to do it based on the priority groups and those most at risk, the most important thing is getting us to herd immunity and getting everybody vaccinated,” Dr. Sharkey said.

According to the CDC, after a vial is opened or punctured, there is approximately six hours before the dose has to be discarded.

Dr. Sharkey says you are more likely to get a call if you're on a Moderna vaccine leftover waiting list.

“There’s 10 doses in that vial so once that vial is punctured, if they take out one dose they gotta use the next nine in the next six hours. Whereas the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson have fewer doses,” Dr. Sharkey said.

With spring break around the corner, many Arkansans may plan to travel out of state. Dr. Sharkey says she advises against that, especially to states that have lifted COVID-19 safety restrictions. 

“There’s states lifting a lot of their mandates and these tend to be states that people like to go to for spring break mainly Florida and Texas,” Dr. Sharkey said.

Dr. Sharkey believes the COVID-19 variants are worrisome.

“We’re seeing what's happening in Europe and if we continue to let this virus spread and do things that don’t try to limit its spread than we’re going to see more variants appear here in NWA,” Dr. Sharkey said.

Medical experts agree that continuing to wear face masks and social distancing will continue to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We’ve gotta keep it up. We’re really close at the end of this and I’m just worried that in a few more weeks we’re going to see a surge in cases of a result of everybody traveling,” Dr. Sharkey said.

RELATED: 117 COVID-19 cases, 7 new hospitalizations reported in Arkansas Monday