Dept. of Health asks for people’s patience as vaccine doses continue to slowly arrive in RI

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Rhode Island Department of Health doctors outlined the next steps in the state’s vaccination efforts at Thursday’s press briefing and said the state continues to get a limited amount of doses per week.

The briefing was led by RIDOH Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott who said the systems in the state are “strong” and “working well” but said the state is only getting around 14,000 doses per week.

“We all want to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, and believe me, we all want to vaccinate everyone as quickly as possible.”

But the amount coming in can vaccinate just 1.5% of the population. That’s why RIDOH is prioritizing healthcare workers first along with older adults, but not all older adults at once.

“There are roughly 187 thousand people in Rhode Island who are older than 65 years of age. If we were to say that all adults 65 years of age and older were eligible to get vaccinated right now, it would still take us months to get through this population given the 14,000 doses we are getting a week is just not enough,” said Dr. Philip Chan.

Dr. Chan said RIDOH is taking a stepwise approach, and prioritizing older adults most at risk and in congregate care settings.

Pharmacies have wrapped up vaccinations at nursing homes, and now they’ll move to assisted living facilities.

Many hospital workers are getting their second doses, while the vaccine moves on to other healthcare settings. Next week, outpatient healthcare providers such as primary care doctors and dentists will receive the vaccine.

Next comes healthcare workers in congregate settings like dialysis centers, blood and organ donation centers, funeral home workers, and those working in group homes with people with developmental disabilities.

“By the middle of next month,” Dr. Chan said, “We anticipate the vaccine will be available for adults 75 years of age and older.”

When Rhode Islanders do receive the vaccine, Dr. Alexander-Scott said it’s important to know that it doesn’t mean you’re fully immune.

“An outstanding question is whether the vaccine will prevent infection completely, and prevent you from spreading it to another person.”

She said, it will minimize symptoms, but it’s important to still take the proper precautions even after getting your COVID-19 shot.

“While the vaccine will prevent most people from getting very sick from COVID-19, and ultimately from going to the hospital or from dying, we still don’t know for certain that it will totally prevent you from actually getting the virus or from spreading coronavirus.”

RIDOH is finalizing plans for Phase 2, and those plans will be submitted to the COVID-19 subcommittee on Friday. Phase 2 details are expected to be out next week.

RIDOH also announced two new testing sites, one at Thundermist in Woonsocket and the other at the Knights of Columbus in Middletown. Click here to make an appointment.

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Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island