PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island COVID-19 vaccine subcommittee has unanimously approved the use of Moderna’s vaccine in the state for frontline health care workers 18 years of age or older.
All hospitals are expected to begin receiving doses of the vaccine on Monday, as announced in an emergency virtual meeting of the subcommittee that morning.
The vote from the subcommittee was the final move needed for the vaccine to be used in Rhode Island, after it went through reviews and approvals at the federal level last week.
As of Monday afternoon, Women and Infants, Butler, Miriam and Newport hospitals received their first shipments.
One of 113 Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers to receive a shipment of the Moderna vaccine, the VA Providence Healthcare System announced they began vaccinating their health care personnel with this COVID-19 vaccine Monday.
After an advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave its overwhelming support to recommend emergency use for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to adults 18 years and older, the FDA granted an Emergency Use Authorization Friday night.
Over the weekend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) also voted to recommend the vaccine for emergency use.
The panel also voted to recommend frontline workers and people 75 and older should be next in line to get the vaccine.
Rhode Island’s COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee reviewed ACIP guidance and interim clinical considerations for using Moderna’s vaccine on Monday.
Rhode Island’s Phase 1 population has still not been finalized yet. An executive steering committee that makes the call plans to meet Monday, but subcommittee members said a final decision is dependent on how complex the discussion is on the ACIP guidance.
The vaccine is said to be just over 94% effective and requires two doses 28 days apart.
Moderna says it aims to provide 20 million doses of the vaccine before the year is over. Rhode Island is said to get 19,000 first doses in its initial shipment, which the subcommittee says the state is on track to receive in all of Rhode Island’s hospitals Monday.
Alysia Mihalakos, chief of the Health Department’s Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response and co-lead of the state’s COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Workgroup, said there is a program in place to vaccinate those administering the shots.
“Our two mass vaccinator partners received an initial supply vaccine last week. They will continue this week,” Mihalakos said. “We will be working with community health centers to ensure that their staff can start to be vaccinated.”
Mihalakos said doses will be given on a rolling basis, including vaccines for the Cranston ACI.
This week, a majority of Pfizer’s vaccine allocated to Rhode Island will go towards a partnership with CVS and Walgreens, which will administer the vaccine to those in nursing homes.
Rhode Island nursing homes still won’t begin vaccination clinics until Dec. 28 at the earliest.
Last Monday, the subcommittee gave the green light to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, and the first shots were given to health care workers in some Lifespan hospitals that day.
Later in the week, the state learned its allocated supply of Pfizer’s vaccine was cut for its week two shipment, just as hospitals learned the vials contained one to two extra doses inside.