Health Dept: RI has one of the highest COVID immunization rates per capita


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — More than 35,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Rhode Island, and the R.I. Department of Health (RIDOH) says the weekly allotment from the federal government isn’t enough to keep up with the demand.

“We’re just not getting a lot of vaccine from the federal government,” RIDOH Spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said, adding that 2,000 people each day are vaccinated in the state.

“We administer in a week, the amount of vaccine we get in a week,” he continued. “We have the systems in place to vaccinate many more people than we are vaccinating now each week, so we are ready to go.”

Wendelken said despite this challenge, the state’s vaccine rollout timeline is where they expected it would be.

“We anticipated that early on for at least the first few weeks there would be limited amount of vaccine available, so that’s why we did really careful phased approach to making vaccine available,” he said.

Wendelken said Rhode Island currently has one of the highest immunization rates per capita in the country.

By the end of January, he said outpatient healthcare providers, such as dentists, will be eligible to get the vaccine.

Wendelken said they’re also keeping a close eye on the AstraZeneca vaccine, which if federally approved would provide the state with additional COVID-19 shots.

But whether AstraZeneca’s vaccine is approved or not, Wendelken said number of doses the state administers should ramp up soon. He said the state receives 14,000 doses per week, and is on track to receive its 50,000th dose from the government next Monday.

“As time goes on more vaccine will become more available, but at this point with such small amounts of vaccine coming into Rhode Island each week we have to be very fictitious with where the vaccine is being distributed to,” he said. “We understand people are very eager to get the vaccine and that’s a good thing.”

Out of the 35,000 doses that have been given in the state, 4,600 are second doses, meaning thousands of Rhode Islanders are fully vaccinated.

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