PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island has fully vaccinated more than 11,000 people, representing about 1% of the state’s population, according to the R.I. Department of Health.
The two COVID-19 vaccines currently in use — Pfizer’s and Moderna’s — require two separate shots, three to four weeks apart. A person is considered fully vaccinated after two shots. The state has administered nearly 47,000 first-dose shots to date.
Rhode Island’s death toll from the pandemic climbed to 2,045 on Tuesday, an increase of 40 since data was last released by the Health Department on Friday.
Another 2,521 people tested positive for the virus for the first time during that same period. In addition to the new infections, the Health Department added 98 newly disclosed cases to prior-day totals over the last two weeks.
Meanwhile, COVID-19-related hospitalizations fell to 366, with 50 patients currently in intensive care and 37 on ventilators.
Rhode Island is still working through Phase I of its vaccine distribution plan, focusing on groups such as frontline health care workers, outpatient health care providers, COVID-19 specimen collectors, and nursing home residents and staff.
Dr. Philip Chan, a consultant medical director with the R.I. Department of Health, tells 12 News the state is doing the best it can with what’s available.
“We don’t have enough vaccine,” he said. “We are really limited by the federal government and manufacturing process.”
“We would love to vaccinate everyone and get to everyone at once — that is our goal — but we are limited,” Chan continued.
The final group in Phase I is people 75 and older. While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that states fast-track people older than 65 and other high-risk individuals, Chan said the supply just simply isn’t there right now.
“When you look at Rhode Island, there are about 190,000 people who are older than 65 years of age. We obviously want to get to this group as soon as possible,” Chan explained. “What we had to do was break it down into subsets, so we are actually starting with individuals 75 years of age and older first, and there’s roughly 79,000 people that are older than 75, so we are getting there.”
Massachusetts just opened a mass vaccination site at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, but Chan said Rhode Island isn’t there yet.
“We’re still considering and discussing vaccination sites,” he said. “One thing that we thought made sense for Rhode Island is instead of having one massive site, is to spread it around so it’s more accessible to people and people can easily commute to it.”