Philip A. Chan, Consultant Medical Director for the Rhode Island Department of Health, on Friday night provided the following update on the vaccine in Rhode Island.
I’m writing today to share an update on where we stand in our COVID-19 vaccination campaign. If you find this information helpful, please sign up for the Rhode Island Department of Health RIDOH’s weekly update that is dedicated to the COVID-19 vaccine.
As of this morning, 66,070 doses of vaccine had been administered in Rhode Island (52,925 first doses, and 13,145 second doses). We are working hard to distribute vaccine, but supply remains very limited. Right now, we’re receiving enough first doses each week for about 1.5% of our population. While other states are in the same position, Rhode Island ranks among the top states nationally in terms of the rate of second doses administered.
We are currently in Phase 1 of our vaccination campaign. The aim of Phase 1 has been to ensure the stability of our healthcare system and to protect people in congregate living settings, as well as to start vaccinating in some of our hardest hit areas.
When it comes to older adults, we began vaccinating in nursing homes in December. This week, we started to vaccinate in assisted living facilities and other congregate living settings. By the middle of February, we expect the vaccine will be available for adults 75 and older. We have received a lot of questions about vaccination of older adults. In Rhode Island, there are 187,000 Rhode Islanders age 65 or older. Since we are only getting about 14,000 first doses of vaccine a week, we are taking a stepwise approach with this group as well.
Please note that there is no action that older adults need to take at this time to get a vaccine. When we are ready to start vaccinating this population, we will communicate with the public, healthcare providers, and community organizations to provide instructions. We will also continue to share updates through this newsletter and other outlets.
While the vaccine rollout will take time, there is a lot you can do in the meantime to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Testing is more available now than it has ever been in Rhode Island. If you go online right now to portal.ri.gov, you can make a same-day appointment to get tested at many sites throughout the state. If you test positive, Rhode Island also has a new doctor-recommended treatment. This fast, easy, and highly effective treatment helps keep you from getting sicker and being hospitalized. However, the earlier you start treatment, the more effective it is. If you test positive for COVID-19 and are 65 or older or have an underlying health condition, immediately call your healthcare provider and ask about treatment for COVID-19. You can find out more information about this treatment here.
Lastly, I want to echo the sentiments shared by Dr. Alexander-Scott at yesterday’s COVID-19 press conference and thank everyone. It’s been a very long 10 months. I think we’ve all learned a lot. Crisis is a very powerful teacher. One thing that we’ve seen and learned time and time again is that we do so much better when we come together and support each other. Our goal is to offer a COVID-19 vaccine to everyone in Rhode Island as quickly as we can. We all want to be healthy and safe, to keep our loved ones healthy and safe, and to get COVID-19 behind us. We are getting there. Thank you for your patience and sacrifices to this point. We need to keep it going for a little while longer, and we need to remember that we’re all in this together. So please, let’s keep supporting each other.
We will continue to share regular updates as more information becomes available. You can find updates on vaccination planning and answers to frequently asked questions on RIDOH’s COVID-19 Vaccine page.
Philip A. Chan, MD, MS
Consultant Medical Director, RIDOH