Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced at his weekly COVID-19 press briefing Tuesday (March 14) a partnership between the Arkansas Bankers Association and the Arkansas Pharmacists Association that will increase COVID-19 vaccination clinic capacity, especially in rural areas.
Through this initiative, called “Operation Vax Speed,” local pharmacists will have the ability to work with local banks to utilize bank locations as vaccination sites.
“This partnership between our state’s banks and pharmacists should help us expedite the process of vaccinating as many Arkansans as possible, and quickly,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “When this idea was first discussed a few weeks ago, I saw it as a great opportunity that we needed to work on implementing. This is another example of how our state’s business leaders are working together and being innovative to help get this pandemic under control. I applaud both organizations for their efforts to help their fellow Arkansans.”
In many smaller towns, distribution of the vaccine can be limited by the lack of space available within pharmacies to vaccinate larger numbers of patients or the lack of a local pharmacy altogether.
As the vaccine supply increases in the coming weeks and months, it will be crucial to have the ability to vaccinate more people in a shorter period of time.
“From the onset of the pandemic, Arkansas banks have engaged as trusted partners in meeting the needs of their customers and communities,” Arkansas Bankers Association President/CEO Lorrie Trogden said.
“With more than 1,300 bank offices across the state in almost every city and town, banks are in a unique position to work with local pharmacists to provide additional space to increase vaccination clinic capacity. There are several clinics already scheduled with more being added every day. Pharmacies are making the clinic appointments, so please contact your local pharmacy to find out if a clinic has been scheduled near you,” Trogden added.
“Through their hard work, long hours, and strong collaborations, pharmacists have been instrumental in getting Arkansans vaccinated quickly and efficiently, allowing the state’s vaccine plan to rapidly accelerate over the past few months,” Arkansas Pharmacists Association CEO John Vinson said.
“As production of vaccines continues to advance, this new collaboration between pharmacists and bankers will make a significant difference in many communities and will help keep the pace of vaccinations strong. We are very excited about this partnership and we thank the Governor and his staff for their help and support to get this program off the ground,” Vinson added.