McKee says he plans to make changes to RI’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout

12 on 12: Vaccine 101

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WPRI) — In Lt. Gov. Dan McKee’s first appearance since criticizing the Raimondo administration’s handling of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, he said the state needs to be quicker about getting shots into people’s arms.

McKee was in Portsmouth Wednesday for the opening of a new community vaccination site at Raytheon.

“I’ve said over and over again, I am not the governor, and am not in the position to create strategies of policies,” he said.

McKee was mum on the details of what he plans to change, instead saying his team is doing their homework.

“I’m just going to keep on doing the background that we are doing,” he added.

That background is said to include reaching out to Harvard and Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, a state being widely viewed as a leader in vaccine distribution.

“People of Rhode Island need to know we are preparing to get shots in the arms as soon as I am governor, and it is starting right here today in Portsmouth,” McKee said.

The R.I. Department of Health continues to stand by its distribution approach, announcing Wednesday that residents 65 and older will be eligible to make an appointment at the state-run clinics starting next week.

Raimondo, addressing the broader criticism, said she’s disappointed things aren’t moving faster but believes the state’s age-based approach is working.

“I do want you to know that this was intentional, driven by expertise, which said ‘focus on decreasing hospitalizations,’ and we’ve cut them in half in the past month and a half,” she said.

McKee has promised to keep the current COVID-19 response team in place.

While the U.S. Senate has yet to schedule a final vote for Raimondo’s confirmation as President Joe Biden’s commerce secretary, McKee says he’s confident he will be governor by next week.

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