In the News

U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., embarked Tuesday on a three-day, multicity tour to encourage covid-19 immunizations in the state and to determine other ways the federal government might be able to help with low vaccine acceptance.

Early in the vaccine rollout, Arkansas fared relatively well nationally in terms of the number of people receiving shots; however, in recent weeks, supply has begun to far outstrip demand as the number of Arkansans willing to be immunized has dramatically waned.

Pharmacists have reported problems filling appointment slots and, in some instances, said they have so much extra vaccine that there is no need to place orders for more for a couple of weeks.

Billed as the "Shots in ARms" tour, Boozman began Tuesday morning at the Arkansas Department of Health, where he met with state Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero to discuss how federal dollars and other forms of assistance could support efforts to increase inoculation rates.

About 14%, or 420,000, of the state's roughly 3 million residents had been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, according to national vaccine data that is tracked by The New York Times. That puts Arkansas nearly at the bottom of the list compared with fully vaccinated populations in other states.

"The idea is to make sure that the federal component is doing what it needs to do to be helpful," Boozman said during a joint news conference with Romero after their meeting at the Health Department.

"Arkansas has several different regions -- some of them more populated, others not so populated. It is not one size fits all," the senator said. "We are trying to develop a strategy where you can get everybody taken care of, so that is what we talked about, how we can be helpful in that regard."

Boozman said federal covid-19 relief money will help support the state Department of Health with logistics surrounding vaccine delivery as well as education efforts to encourage vaccinations.

"The good news is that the federal dollars are flowing," Boozman said. "There is lots in the pipeline in the future, and a lot of that is for public health and fighting the covid battle."

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