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First COVID-19 vaccine given in Arkansas as first shipment arrives

The state of Arkansas received its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Monday was a historic day across the country and right here in Arkansas. The first shipments and immunizations of the COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed and administered. 

On Monday afternoon at the Arkansas Department of Health, five Arkansas front-line workers became a part of history. They were among the first in the state to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The energy in the room was full of hope as everyone witnessed what Arkansas' top doctor, Jose Romero, said could possibly be the beginning of the end to this pandemic.

"This is monumental. I cannot say how important this is," he said. 

Dr. Romero described the pivotal step forward in the nine-month battle against COVID-19.

"We now actually have a way of inducing immunity and protecting individuals from the COVID disease," he said.

On Monday one pharmacy, two hospitals, and the Arkansas Department of Health received one tray, which is 975 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Rian Snell is the Director of Clinical Services for Woodsprings Pharmacy in Jonesboro.

"It feels amazing to be able to participate in the means to an end," he said.

According to Snell, the pharmacy received the vaccine by FedEx truck on Monday morning and they will be distributing it throughout the week to hospitals across the state.

"I will be personally delivering the vaccine to those facilities, making sure that they are aware of the storage requirements and that it gets taken care of correctly," he said.

From the time the vaccine leaves the pharmacy, Snell said the hospitals have 120 hours to administer those vaccines. 

He said each hospital receives a different amount of doses based on the number of employees and COVID-19 cases they currently have.

But five Arkansas Department of Health frontline workers didn't have to wait that long, including epidemiologist Megan Delong.

"I'm just excited to be apart of it and be a part of history," she said.

Delong described the shot as not painful at all and nothing other Arkansans should be nervous about.

"I think it would only be beneficial for your loved ones and your community, so I do recommend going ahead and getting it," she said.

According to Dr. Romero, most of the major hospitals will be receiving the vaccine on Tuesday. 

Baptist Health, UAMS, and Jefferson Regional confirmed with THV11 they will have their shipments in by Tuesday.