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Concerns grow as COVID-19 vaccination rates drop in Arkansas

“These vaccines are incredibly safe and incredibly effective. They have been tested through the FDA, and all the rigorous standards were met. No steps were skipped."

ARKANSAS, USA — National vaccine day of action on Thursday marks the kick-off for the national month of action on COVID-19 vaccine education and awareness. 

The Biden administration is launching a major push to get more people vaccinated by July 4th.

According to the CDC, Arkansas is one of just a few states with less than 34% of the population fully vaccinated.

Dr. Creshelle Nash hopes the national movement removes barriers and encourages more Arkansans to get vaccinated. 

“In Arkansas, about 38% are fully vaccinated, but it varies around the state another. 10% are partially vaccinated, so we have work to do," Nash said. 

Nash is the medical director for health equity and public programs at Arkansas Blue Cross. 

She says the state is doing well distributing doses, but the problem is fewer people want it. 

“I understand that everyone is tired. I call this pandemic fatigue, but we have to stay diligent because the next hot spot may be a hot spot where there are low vaccinations," she said. 

Preventing hospitalizations is one of the main reasons Nash says you see the numbers going down across the state. Now she says we need the number for vaccinations to go up. 

“These vaccines are incredibly safe and incredibly effective. They have been tested through the FDA, and all the rigorous standards were met. No steps were skipped,” Nash said. 

And with the pace of vaccination rates slowing in recent weeks, especially in southern states, President Biden continues to urge those to get the shot. 

“For all the progress we’re making as a country, if you’re unvaccinated, you are still at risk of getting seriously ill or dying,” President Biden said. 

In terms of how long COVID-19 immunity lasts after you get the vaccine, “Is it one year, is it two years, we don’t quite know yet. But the other factor in that is that viruses change, so we have variants, so more than likely, we will need a booster at some time in the future,” Nash told 5NEWS. 

Arkansas started offering vaccine incentives last week, including a free lottery ticket, fishing and hunting licenses, and even Girl Scout cookies in some locations. Several state health officials say those perks do not seem to be bringing in more people. 

The state's vaccination rate has gone down 11% since last week. 

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