Phase 2 of vaccine distribution plan looks to prioritize 65+ and high-risk individuals

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Friday morning, the Rhode Island Vaccine Subcommittee discussed major steps in Phase 2 of the state’s vaccine distribution plan.

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The plan includes prioritizing adults 65 years of age and older and anyone with a high-risk condition. Their goal for this phase is to minimize hospitalizations and deaths, prioritize groups disproportionately impacted by the virus and reopen the economy.

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“We want people to have access quickly,” a subcommittee member said. “As soon as the vaccine is in the state of Rhode Island, we want to be distributing it.”

The subcommittee discussed how to figure out who is most at high-risk and should get priority based on the limited supply the state is receiving right now.

The big question: what is classified as a high-risk condition?

The CDC defines high risk in these categories:

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The subcommittee also took a look at data from Rhode Island Hospitals:

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“We use our Rhode Island data to guide us in the order of prioritization,” Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said.

The group also acknowledged that there are many other conditions that are less common and still pose a great risk and should be included.

So, what do you do if you qualify? Will you need a note from your doctor? Those questions remain un-answered by Rhode Island officials.

“We’re still finalizing the operations behind all of this,” a subcommittee member said. “There are many different avenues for verification.”

The group also addressed questions like will blacks and Latinos get priority due to higher death rates and COVID?

“We looked at that data and agree wholeheartedly that hospitalizations and death rates among certain communities that are truly condensed within core cities are significant,” a subcommittee member said.

Teachers were also a hot topic as many push for priority for the population. Dr. Alexander Scott says data shows more than 50% of teachers would qualify under Phase 2 by their age and health risk.

“It is clear that teachers, school staff, child care workers, other people serving the public would be able to be vaccinated in the scenario early on and what this would allow us to do it target those at highest risk in those groups,” a subcommittee member said.

The subcommittee will meet again on February 5th where they hope to present a final priority plan for Phase 2 based on the input from Friday’s meeting.

If you have questions about the vaccine and your priority, you’re asked to email: ridoh.covid19questions@health.ri.gov.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island