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Arkansas expanding eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots

Before Monday's announcement, only certain groups of Arkansans were allowed to receive booster jabs.

ARKANSAS, USA — Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Monday afternoon that Arkansas would join a list of states recommending a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone over 18-years-old. 

"I think it will eliminate some confusion, and it'll also encourage everyone across-the-board that meets these criteria to go get the booster shot," said Governor Asa Hutchinson. "That's the best protection from the virus and from serious health consequences."

Arkansas recommends people get their booster dose six months after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Those who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine are asked to wait two months to get their vaccine. 

"The data indicates the effectiveness of the vaccine deteriorates over time," said Hutchinson. "So, that's the reason for the booster, and we want to make sure everybody that's 18 and older is eligible and is encouraged to get the booster."

5NEWS spoke with Medical Arts Pharmacy in Fayetteville. They say they are well equiped to handle the new recommendations from the state.

As we head into the winter months, pharmacies say anything we can do to build up herd immunity is welcomed.

"They're already going to be susceptible to the flu the mask mandates are trying to go away," said Julie Stewart, a pharmacist with Medical Arts Pharmacy. "So, I think anything we can do to boost people's immunity is a good thing."

Right now, Arkansas is seeing a dip in the number of covid-19 cases. The governor says vaccinations are to thank for the lower number of hospitalizations and cases.

"We're in a much better position than we were before because our active cases are way down, our hospitalizations are way down, and our vaccination rates are up," said Gov. Hutchinson.  

The governor says the state is currently getting paperwork for vaccination clinics and pharmacies to fill out whenever booster shots are given. 

If you're interested in signing up to receive a COVID-19 booster shot, please use this map created by the Arkansas Department of Health to track a health unit near you offering the vaccine. 

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