RI health officials hope to finalize vaccination distribution plan within coming weeks

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Amid news of a promising coronavirus vaccine and a significant surge in cases, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is working diligently to finalize its distribution plan.

Trisha Washburn, chief of the Center for Preventative Services at RIDOH, said while the state has drafted a 52-page vaccination plan, there are still some important details that need to be hammered out.

Washburn said the first phase of the state’s distribution plan would make vaccines available to healthcare workers in high-risk settings and select first responders.

Beyond that, she said nothing is set in stone.

Among the specifics that need to be finalized are where the vaccines will be administered. Washburn said community-based accessibility is a top priority in their vaccination plan.

“We are looking at healthcare workers at highest risk in Phase 1A, so it’s likely hospitals could set up clinics,” Washburn said. “We do have vendors we are working with that potentially could go in and set up a mass clinic and we will work with our municipalities to set up points of dispensing.”

Washburn said based on Rhode Island’s population, they could receive more than 10,000 vaccine doses per week.

“We’re thinking we could potentially get something around 8,000 to 16,000 doses a week, but again, these are all just projections, but they do help us with planning like where those doses would go and who would get them first,” she said.

Washburn said with news of Pfizer’s promising coronavirus vaccine, the Rhode Island Department of Health hopes to finalize their vaccination plan within the next few weeks.

“The manufacturers have made it clear that they believe they are going to be able to submit some of their data from their Phase 3 clinical trials to the FDA some time in late November,” Washburn said. “So we are preparing, and believing, that there is a potential we could have vaccine available in December or January.”

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