Q&A: Specialist on RI’s vaccine distribution plan, timeline


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Dr. Philip Chan, a consultant medical director at the R.I. Department of Health, detailed the state’s four-phase distribution plan for the coronavirus vaccine during Gov. Gina Raimondo’s weekly coronavirus briefing Thursday, which left many Rhode Islanders with more questions than answers.

Dr. Chan took the time Friday to answer some of the questions sent in to 12 Responds regarding the vaccine and the state’s distribution plan:

Why are children in the phase three of the distribution? There are no studies showing they get seriously ill when infected. Should we wait on this for them?

Dr. Chan: “Young children generally do really well. They’re typically not infected as seriously, however, we do believe children can contribute to transmission in the community, so obviously prioritizing K-12 schools is incredibly important and so that is why they are included a little bit lower than people who are at risk for getting significant disease.”

Is the projected timeline of when people can get the vaccine only based on projection that we will have Moderna and Pfizer only? Could the timeline change if we get Oxford and Johnson & Johnson too?

Dr. Chan: “Our current vaccine timelines are currently based on Pfizer and Moderna. All of our projections and issues about supplies are based on these two. If we have a new vaccine or two that are approved in the coming months, that will greatly help us getting vaccine out. That would change the game and we are hoping that it would happen.”

More: RI ‘ready to go’ once COVID-19 vaccine is approved »

People with compromised immune systems, like my son who is 15 and has Crohn’s disease..which phase would he be in?”

Dr. Chan: “People with comorbid and underlying conditions are being prioritized as part of Phase 1B. So the decision of who is significantly at higher risk, that is something you should check in with your medical provider about, but we definitely want to prioritize that group.”

12 Responds: Send us your questions and concerns »

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