About 2,500 people were vaccinated at Walgreens locations in Arkansas within a 24-hour span after the doses were made available Monday to members of the public who are now eligible for the shots, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday.
At the governor's weekly news conference on the pandemic, Col. Robert Ator, who is coordinating the state's vaccination effort, said he expected an additional 3,000 doses of the vaccine to be available at certain CVS locations in the state starting on Monday.
Both pharmacy chains have provided the vaccine to residents and workers at long-term care facilities in the state as part of a federal program.
The two companies were allocated more doses than were needed for that effort, so some of those are now becoming available to the members of the broader public who are now eligible for the shots.
State Epidemiologist Jennifer Dillaha said Friday the surplus doses included 17,000 that were initially allocated to Walgreens and 12,000 that were designated for CVS.
Hutchinson also said Tuesday that he welcomed reports that the amount of vaccine being allocated to the states by the federal government will increase next week by about 16%.
This week the state was allocated enough vaccine to provide the initial shots to about 37,125 Arkansans, as well as additional doses to provide booster shots for people who received the initial shot earlier.
The increase "will allow us to get more vaccinations into the arms of Arkansans," Hutchinson said.
"There's no doubt in my mind that we have a team that can get that done," he said.
The news came as the state's count of cases rose by 2,485 - a bigger increase than the 1,331 cases that were added to the state's tallies the previous Tuesday, Jan. 19.
The state's death toll from the virus, as tracked by the Department of Health, rose by 40, to 4,690.
Meanwhile, the number of people hospitalized in the state with covid-19 rose for the second straight day. After rising by four on Monday, it rose Tuesday by 11, to 1,095.
But the number of patients who were on ventilators fell Tuesday by 11, to 176.
The total number of coronavirus cases reported in Arkansas remained at 284,702 Tuesday morning, according to a state website. The death toll remained at 4,650.