Arkansas expands vaccines eligibility to 180,000 more people

The Associated Press
Gov. Asa Hutchinson, seen in Fort Smith June 2020, announced Monday the state would fully open up the COVID-19 vaccine to the remainder of the 1B category under the state's vaccination plan. The move also opens up the vaccine to those working in manufacturing, public transportation, and at grocery stores.

LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas on Monday expanded eligibility for coronavirus vaccines to another 180,000 people, making the shots available to a wide group that includes manufacturing workers and essential government employees.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the state would fully open up the vaccine to the remainder of the 1B category under the state's vaccination plan. The move also opens up the vaccine to those working in manufacturing, public transportation, and at grocery stores.

Arkansas had previously made the vaccine available to those at least 65 years old and several other groups, including teachers, health care workers, and law enforcement.

Hutchinson said the decision came after there was not the demand expected when the state held vaccination clinics over the weekend.

The Health Department on Sunday said nearly 734,000 of the 1.2 million vaccine doses the state has received have been given so far.

Hutchinson also announced Arkansas was setting up a statewide vaccination scheduling system people can call toll-free to make an appointment. Up to 30 employees will be staffing a call center for the system, the governor said.