As demand for COVID-19 vaccine increases, RI to start getting more doses per week


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — In a regular meeting of Rhode Island’s COVID-19 vaccine subcommittee, R.I. Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott informed members the state’s supply of first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine is expected to increase by around 3,000 additional doses per week.

Since vaccines started being shipped to states in December, Rhode Island has slowly increased its allocation of doses from about 14,000 to roughly 16,000.

Dr. Alexander-Scott said the week of Feb. 21, Rhode Island will be allocated up to 19,000 first doses, which she anticipates would arrive the following week.

“That is the full extent of the increase that we have clearly documented, or clearly been informed of at this point,” Dr. Alexander-Scott told subcommittee members Friday morning.

“Many of the larger conversations about more significant increases speak to those doses coming through months from now,” she added, noting it will likely continue to be small incremental increases until that point.

As Dr. Alexander-Scott said in her department’s weekly COVID-19 briefing Thursday, state-run clinics are not expected to open until there are enough vaccines to administer. She anticipates there will eventually be five to ten of those sites statewide.

Friday, RIDOH confirmed the Dunkin’ Donuts Center would be turned into one of the state’s mass vaccination sites. The site planned to end its testing operations there Friday.

Other local clinics targeted to open in high-density communities will also depend on supply, and if providers are ready and have the ability to quickly receive and deliver vaccine to community members, according to a presentation in Friday’s subcommittee meeting.

McKenzie Morton, a COVID Vaccine Strategy and Planning Team member, said community healthcare facilities in Pawtucket, Providence, Cranston and North Providence are in discussion with the state.

“We’re doing so, kind of on a staged basis as we onboard additional community partners and get more vaccine,” Morton said.

The effort to target community members in high-density areas is already being piloted in Central Falls, where a limited number of vaccinations began at the end of December.

Next week, the state is targeting beginning vaccinations in one remaining Phase 1 group, which includes funeral home workers, morticians and other death care professionals.

These workers were originally targeted in Phase 1.4, ahead of adults 75 and older in Phase 1.5. Vaccinations for seniors in that age group were moved up earlier last weekend.

According to the subcommittee, clinics for homeless Rhode Islanders are being planned, and might also begin as early as next week.

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