FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — A Northwest Arkansas hospital is on the list to be one of the first in the state to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s approved by the FDA.
Washington Regional Medical Center was asked by Secretary of Health, Dr. Jose Romero to be one of the first hospitals in the state to receive the COVID-19 vaccine based on the number of patients they have treated and the spread of the virus in our area.
“We certainly raised our hand and are happy to help the community, first responders, and of course our hospital and health care system give this vaccine out to those who need it,” Birch Wright said.
Washington Regional Chief Operating Officer, Birch Wright says first the hospital’s health care workers will receive the vaccine and then first responders. They do not know how many doses they will receive but both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine require two doses to get to the 94% and 95% efficacy. He hopes by early spring that anybody that wants a vaccine can get one.
“We still have to be vigilant. We still have to make sure we do the social distancing, masking, and washing our hands. There isn’t going to be enough vaccine in the next month for everyone. So, we have to prioritize those groups, get those people vaccinated, make sure they stay, so we can still take care of those patients that we are still trying to treat,” he said.
Fayetteville Board of Health Officer, Dr. Marti Sharkey says they felt purchasing the freezer was important for the community. The just over $11,000 freezer cost came from CARES Act money.
“It should help everybody throughout the state. We can accept the Pfizer vaccine and let the other people who don’t have that capacity to accept more of the Moderna vaccine which only has to be kept in a regular freezer,” she said.
There is not a specific date for when the vaccine will be available since it's still waiting on FDA approval.
The Arkansas of Health says the other four hospitals they plan to give the vaccine to are Baptist Health in Little Rock, NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital, St. Bernards Medical Center, and UAMS Medical Center.