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New COVID omicron vaccine coming to Arkansas

Pharmacies and medical centers across the state will receive the vaccine within the next week— and pharmacists said it came at the perfect time.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A new COVID vaccine that will target the virus' omicron variant will be coming to Arkansas this month. 

Pharmacies and medical centers across the state can expect to get the new doses within the next week— and experts said that it came at a good time.

"The impact of the disease on everyday life, getting your kids to school, getting to work, that sort of thing. It's definitely still active," said Daniel Cate, pharmacist and co-owner of Market Place Pharmacy.

According to Cate, that's exactly why the new booster was needed.

"The vaccines that we currently have been using are still effective, but they aren't preventing disease as much. So more people getting sick, even if it's a more mild case, thanks to some of the protection from those vaccines, this will hopefully get us back to a point where fewer people are getting the disease," Cate explained.

He added that the new vaccine will replace some of the shots he has been currently using at Market Place Pharmacy. 

"We will be administering the old vaccines for primary series. So meaning that first or second dose, still, but any boosters given will be this new bivalent That's covering the Omicron variant," Cate said.

He has a shipment of the new Moderna vaccine but said that he's still waiting on Pfizer. 

"I believe by the end of next week, we will have both vaccines available," he said.

He expects more people will come into his pharmacy and ask for the new shots within the next few weeks. 

"We will have plenty to meet the initial rush and be able to kind of keep up with it after that," Cate said.

Doctor Robert Hopkins at UAMS said that the new vaccine was introduced at the perfect time, as kids head back to the classroom and before it gets cold outside. 

"We're trying to get the vaccine out quickly. So it's in people's arms before we get into October, November, December when we're likely to see more disease as the weather cools off," Hopkins said.

He said that since COVID is still present, we shouldn't let our guard down when it comes to protecting ourselves. 

"The vaccines are a tool, me wearing a mask, when I'm around you is a tool, you wearing a mask around me as a tool, the more layers of protection we can put between us and potentially getting the virus the better," he explained.

Advisers to the CDC have recommended administering these updated boosters to vaccinated Americans aged 12 and up.

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