LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced an expansion of the vaccination plan in Arkansas Monday morning, opening the programs to more state residents.
The governor said all of the populations covered in the state’s Phase 1-B groups would be eligible for vaccinations as of Monday, an increase of 180,000 state residents.
These groups include food and agricultural workers, essential government workers, grocery store and meal delivery employees, those working in the postal service and other package delivery services, public transit workers, manufacturing workers and those working in houses of worship.
Hutchinson also said the state was moving residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities from Phase 1-C to Phase 1-B.
These groups join the existing groups from Phase 1-B already deemed eligible for the vaccines, including those 65 years and older, education workers, first responders and corrections workers.
The state is also launching a new vaccination appointment call system to work with the current digital system, which was set up to make appointments with pharmacies and clinic providers.
This system will give Arkansans the ability to call a toll-free number, 1-800-985-6030, that will help them get their vaccination scheduled. Hutchinson noted that some state residents had experienced issues with the mostly computer-based systems, which health officials hoped to resolve with this helpline.
The call system will be staffed by 20 state workers initially, but that number will grow this week, with the intention to help state residents answer any questions and work one-on-one with them to get appointments made.
The phone line will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, and appointments will be handled through the Arkansas Department of Health and health equity clinics.
Hutchinson asked Arkansans to be patient with the expansion of the roles. He also asked for state residents who have signed up on multiple lists to get a vaccine dose to make sure and remove their name from all lists once they have been vaccinated in order to make sure positions on the vaccine lists are open for everyone.
As of Sunday, Arkansas had received 1,088,150 doses of vaccine for state-controlled distribution programs and had administered 677,424 doses through those programs.