LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A new group of Arkansans will soon be able to get the vaccination for COVID-19.
While announcing the latest updates in the state’s response to the ongoing pandemic on Tuesday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that the state is lowering the age at which residents qualify for access to the vaccine from 70 to 65.
This change in the age threshold for receiving the vaccine would open up access for around 115,000 Arkansans.
Currently, Arkansas is in Phase 1-B of the state vaccination plan, focusing on getting doses to residents 70 and older, teachers and school staff from pre-school through university levels and essential priority workers.
Phase 1-A included hospital and other frontline health care workers, first responders and employees and staff at long-term care facilities.
As of Tuesday, 534,479 Arkansans have received the COVID-19 vaccine. The state saw an additional 102,705 doses delivered on Monday, bringing the total number of doses available for state programs to 794,230. An additional 61,000 doses are available in Arkansas for federal programs.
Active case counts continued to drop Tuesday, falling to 4,807. The Arkansas Department of Health reported that 834 new cases were added in the last 24 hours, bringing the total since the pandemic to 316,593.
Another 14 deaths were also reported, bringing the state’s total to 5,377. Cases requiring hospitalization dropped by 43 to 545, while the number of patients needing ventilators fell by 10 to 99.
The drop to 65 as a threshold for vaccinations was originally set for Phase 1-C of the Arkansas vaccination plan. When asked about why the state was making the change in age while there were still other groups in Phase 1-B that had not gotten vaccine access yet, Hutchinson said it was because people in that age range were more likely to have conditions making them susceptible to COVID-19.
The governor added that 14% of Arkansas residents 70 and older have received both of their vaccine doses.