LONOKE, Ark. — People living in rural parts of Arkansas are less likely to get a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s according to a national report by The Covid States Project.
The numbers make it clear: Counties leading in the state’s vaccine effort show about 20 to 25 percent of their population is fully vaccinated.
Rural counties’ numbers are significantly lower, some with only 3 to 5 percent of their population fully vaccinated.
“Now the focus really is on those people that are kind of the in the middle, they’re not so sure about it,” said Col. Rob Ator with the Arkansas Department of Health.
We caught up with one rural pharmacist who says the problem isn’t about accessibility, but instead, a mindset.
“Those who are not interested or have hesitancy are still remaining hesitant, despite the overwhelming availability of it,” said Brandon Achor, pharmacist at Lackie Drug Store in Lonoke.
Achor says he thinks the numbers will stay where they are until there’s an incentive for people to get their shots.
“You know, they wanna go to a concert, of if they want to travel or private businesses start to enact their own requirements,” Achor said.
Both Achor and Ator agree – education about the vaccine from a trusted source is vital for people in rural communities.
“We do our part as much as we can to educate the general population on the safety of it, the efficacy, debunk a couple of the myths that I think people hold onto,” Achor said.
Right now, counties with the most people vaccinated are Cleveland, Bradley and Desha.
The counties with the least number of people vaccinated are mostly located in southwest Arkansas.