R.I. Vaccine Subcommittee discusses shift to phase three of vaccination roll-out

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Rhode Island is now shifting to phase 3 of the vaccine roll-out, which includes targeting schools, universities, businesses and churches.

“The best way to fight this is to get vaccinated and the more people who get vaccinated, the better the health of the campus community will be,” David Lavallee with the University of Rhode Island said.

Lavallee says they’ve been in contact with the Department of Health about prioritizing students at state-run clinics. Now, the focus shifts to bring the vaccine to students.

“The goal is going to be to transition to ambulatory care centers and that would include college health centers like our own,” Lavallee said.

Health officials say the state has now reached a point where supply is greater than demand. In fact, they’re seeing fewer people wanting to get vaccinated or get their second dose.

According to the Department of Health, 11,252 people (4.5%) did not come back for their second shot.

“Here at the health center, we saw patients that were waiting to get the J & J, but now we’re starting to see a shift given the pause,” a member of the vaccine subcommittee said.

Members of the COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee say more Rhode Islanders are reluctant to get the Johnson & Johnson shot. The group met Tuesday morning to discuss the future of the one-shot vaccine in the Ocean State and the next phase of the roll-out plan.

“We actually at one point had to put out a sign that says ‘this is not the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’ or ‘we’re not giving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’ because even though it’s everywhere that we were doing Moderna vaccine, we were getting maybe one out of every 10 people come in for their vaccine wanting to be really clear, I’m not getting the one that causes blood clots, right?” Dr. Wilfredo Perez said.

So far, 15 people across the United States have developed rare blood clots. All of those patients were women under 50 with the exception of one male. Doctors say they now have to alert patients there’s a 1 in 80,000 chance of developing a clot and provide them with the option to switch the vaccine.

“We want to make sure that people are informed and have the choice,” Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott with the R.I. Department of Health said. “We also want to make sure people are taking advantage of J & J.”

Rhode Island is receiving a very small allotment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to begin with, according to the Department of Health. They say before the pause, the state was getting about 700 doses per week.

Following the pause, the federal government is distributing only one to two-million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine across the nation.

ABC 6 News will be following the Vaccine Subcommittee meeting, which is set to begin at 7:30 a.m.

This is a developing story.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island