Nearly all unused vaccine in RI has been assigned, Dr. Chan says

12 on 12: Vaccine 101

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Several recent reports show Rhode Island is trailing other states when it comes to vaccine distribution, with roughly 40% of its doses having not yet been used.

Dr. Philip Chan, a consultant medical director at the R.I. Department of Health who is spearheading the state’s vaccine rollout, says while that’s true, it doesn’t mean those doses aren’t allocated for use.

“Those have not been administered yet. They need to have appointments,” Chan said. “We can’t just give them the second that we have them.”

Some of the unused doses are allocated for CVS and Walgreens to administer in nursing homes and long-term care facilities through a federal program, according to Chan, while others are on standby for second doses.

“Those second doses have to be administered in a very specific time frame for each vaccine,” Chan explained. “We are holding back some of those second doses until folks reach those appropriate timeframes as recommended by the CDC.”

Chan said all nursing homes in Rhode Island have been offered the vaccine, and nearly all of the unused doses have been assigned.

“One-hundred percent of the vaccine is accounted for, I guess I should say, except for the ones in transit,” he added.

West Virginia has emerged as a leader in vaccinations, and according to The New York Times, part of the reason they were able to get doses out faster is because they didn’t enter into an agreement with CVS or Walgreens, as Rhode Island and other states have done.

“It seems like one of the cons of this is that it can potentially slow some of the vaccine allocation,” Chan said. “In some cases, one may say they have even sped up delivery because obviously, CVS and Walgreens are very experienced in terms of logistics and vaccine administration.”

Ultimately, Chan said what would really help is getting more doses into the state faster, which would also free up some of what’s being store for second doses.

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