RIDOH shares update on vaccinations, says Phase 1 could last months

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) held a briefing Tuesday, outlining the populations that will receive COVID-19 vaccines under the state’s first phase of the distribution plan.

The briefing was led by RIDOH Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott who said the state has received around 30,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines and just over 12,000 Rhode Islanders have been vaccinated to date.

Phase 1 is a tiered approach with those most at risk up first for vaccination.

“Vaccinating is happening slowly,” said Dr. Alexander-Scott, “because we are only getting a limited amount of vaccine each week and even that can change.”

RIDOH is receiving around 14,000 doses a week, enough to vaccinate just 1.5% of the state’s population. But Dr. Alexander-Scott said she’s pleased with the rate at which things are moving.

“We are receiving the vaccine, we have a strong plan in place and the systems are working to get it out as effectively and efficiently as possible.”

Phase 1 will last a few months, the director said, at least through February. Plans are in motion for Phase 2, a population Dr. Alexander-Scott said is large.

“Phase 2 will include older adults not covered in Phase 1. It will include other occupation types, people with certain underlying health conditions, critical infrastructure workers, and many others.”

Dr. Alexander-Scott said RIDOH is looking through the lens of equity when making these decisions. Hard hit areas like Central Falls will start receiving the vaccine as soon as this week. But for the rest of Rhode Island, how quickly we get the vaccine depends on how quickly the state gets more doses, the director said.

“Our ability to distribute it is fully dependent on what we receive, and continuing to have a study influx occur weekly. What we’re currently getting, the 14,000, is really just 1.5% of our population. If that increases, that significantly improves our ability to reach the target goal.”

The goal, Dr. Alexander-Scott said, is for Rhode Islanders to have a normal summer.

RIDOH will be releasing more information on Phase 2 in the coming weeks.

© WLNE-TV 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Regional News, Rhode Island