Rhode Island nursing homes prepare for vaccine rollout

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — CVS and Walgreens are working with the Rhode Island Department of Health to vaccinate nursing homes beginning Monday.

Rhode Island Health Care Association CEO Scott Fraser, whose organization represents most of the state’s nursing homes, says he’s a bit disappointed it hadn’t started earlier.

“Certainly with hospitals beginning the vaccination program on December 14, we were hoping we would be very soon after that,” he said.

But now that it’s ready, RIDOH says it’s vaccinating half the nursing homes in the hardest-hit communities of Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls just this week.

Fifteen hundred doses will be administered on Monday alone.

“The people who have been most affected by the illness are getting the vaccinations, and that’s very important,” Fraser said. “We are finally getting the program underway, and it’s going to go a long way to help save people’s lives.”

That has to be done for about 7,000 residents and 10,000 staff at 80 nursing homes across the state.

Staff will be administering directly to residents in their rooms or on their floors.

But what if some residents have an adverse reaction? Fraser says that hasn’t been happening so far in places where the vaccine has already been rolled out, and that staff are prepared on the small chance there is an issue.

“Our direct care personnel are in constant contact with our residents,” he said. “And they’ll be able to observe any reactions whatsoever and take whatever steps are necessary to care for them.”

Fraser believes those fears are outweighed by feelings of excitement.

“They can’t wait to begin the program, because we see it is a beginning of hopefully coming to an end of this pandemic,” he said. “We know there are two rounds of vaccinations that need to take place, but the sooner everyone can receive the first and then the second round, that’s going to go a long way to prevent any further spread of COVID-19.”

The first round of vaccinations is expected to finish on January 15. The second round will take another few weeks after that.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island