Rhode Island DOH discusses plan for vaccine rollout

If the FDA grants Pfizer emergency use of its vaccine, there could possibly be vaccine in the state as early as this weekend.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – If the FDA grants Pfizer emergency use of its vaccine, there could possibly be vaccine in the state as early as this weekend.

“This is obviously something we’ve been waiting for a while,” said DOH Consultant Medical Director Dr. Philip Chan at a media briefing Wednesday. “To me it’s really the beginning of the end of the pandemic.”

According to officials, once the vaccine gets emergency approval it continues to go through rigorous vetting by a committee within the CDC known as the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
They’ll provide guidance on who should or should not be vaccinated, in what order, and when.

Then the state’s vaccine sub-committee will hold an emergency meeting to once again go over safety measures.

“We want to get this vaccine to people who need it most, who are most at risk. We want to minimize deaths, we want to minimize hospitalizations,” said Dr. Chan. “As all of you know, our healthcare system is incredibly overwhelmed.”

The state is expecting 10,000 initial doses of the Pfizer vaccine, followed by 19,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine.

However officials warn that everything is an estimate right now.

“There is always the possibility that something will go wrong in the shipping process or the production process that will slow the availability of vaccine,” explained Co-Lead of the COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Workgroup Alysia Mihalakos. “And so while we hope to watch it steadily escalate, we know that we need to be prepared for things to move slower than we anticipated.”

The vaccine will then likely be distributed in four phases. The first phase would include healthcare workers, first responders, those with significant underlying conditions, and residents at long term care facilities.

Phase two includes those in education, essential workers like in grocery stores, those in congregate settings like prisons or homeless shelters,  and older adults.

Phase three would be younger people and other workers, and phase four would include everyone else.

“This is going to take months, not weeks. There is not enough vaccine, there are not enough vaccinators,” explained Mihalakos. “And unfortunately I think there’s not enough trust just yet for everybody to rush out the door and get vaccinated.”

Dr. Chan also addressed concerns about reactions to the vaccine. He said there have been more intense reactions to the vaccine than a typical flu shot, of achy-ness, fatigue, and pain at the injection site.

He says those are all normal, and proof that the vaccine is going to work to help you develop antibodies.
They usually subside within a few days.

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