Across the country, people are getting back to “normal” thanks to the COVID vaccine. But Southern rural states are struggling to get people vaccinated. Arkansas is seeing an increase of hospitalizations and new cases of COVID-19. According to top Little Rock doctors, hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have doubled in the last few weeks.

On top of that, Arkansas has an increase in new cases– nearly 300 in 24 hours. Governor Asa Hutchinson released a statement urging Arkansans to get their vaccines.

COVID-19 won’t go away until more people take the vaccine. Until we increase the number of shots, we will continue to have increased numbers of hospitalizations and new cases like we did today. It is sad to see someone go to the hospital or die when it can be prevented.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on increased number of active COVID-19 cases.

Also with less people vaccinated, new virus variants are inevitable. The Delta Variant, for example, is spreading across the nation as we speak. Dr. Anthony Fauci says it is the greatest threat to ending the virus in the U.S.

Unvaccinated = Hospitalization

Get your vaccine today to help prevent the spread of the virus
Get your vaccine today to help prevent the spread of the virus

Less than 50% of Arkansas have received their COVID-19 vaccine. According to Dr. Robert Hopkins with UAMS, nearly all of the people who are hospitalized have not been vaccinated or have only received the first dose.

“We see an awful lot of behavior out in the community of people acting like COVID is no longer here and COVID is still here with us… Now we’re seeing younger people because more of our older adults have been vaccinated.

Dr. Robert Hopkins, UAMS

Barriers to Getting Vaccinated

White people comprise 72% of Arkansas residents, yet they represent 84% of all vaccinations. Black people comprise 15% of the state’s population, but only 11% of those who are vaccinated.

Now that the supply of vaccines has increased, access is no longer the main problem to boosting vaccination rates. New vaccine barriers are personal beliefs and economic circumstances; these are more difficult for public health officials and community leaders to overcome.

Consequently, our most vulnerable citizens are now at an even higher risk of contracting Covid. People in the Latinx community are turning to churches for help. And the Arkansas Department of Health is working with food pantries to reach unvaccinated Arkansans who wouldn’t normally seek medical help.

People who are homeless or have food insecurity or have low incomes won’t access health care because they don’t have the resources to do it. If we’re expecting them to go to a health provider to get vaccinated, that might not be a realistic expectation.

 State Epidemiologist Jennifer Dillaha.

Doing Your Part to End the Spread

how to stop the spread of COVID
How to protect yourself and your loved ones while helping stop the spread of COVID-19.

So how can you protect yourself from Covid? Arkansans can use the same measures as before to protect themselves against new virus variants. However, until we increase our vaccination rates, we will continue to see more variants, hospitalizations, and deaths.

If you haven’t already, get vaccinated! and bring a friend or family member. Go out in your community, spread awareness. We cannot hope to be successful in our fight if we don’t work together.