RI ‘ready to go’ once COVID-19 vaccine arrives

Coronavirus

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s no longer a matter of if, but when the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines will arrive in Rhode Island.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer’s vaccine for emergency use Friday night, after an advisory panel determined Thursday it is safe and effective.

Dr. Philip Chan, a consultant medical director with the R.I. Department of Health, announced during Gov. Gina Raimondo’s weekly coronavirus briefing that Rhode Islanders could begin getting vaccinated as early as next week.

Right now, Chan said state health officials are awaiting the OK to begin the distribution process.

“We are simply waiting to get the vaccine and when we do, we will be ready to start,” he said. “We have all of our supply lines and chains ready to go.”

Chan said the state’s vaccine distribution plan is months in the making and will give all Rhode Islanders the chance to get vaccinated safely, effectively and free of charge.

“We wanted to really give this vaccine out to people to prevent hospitalizations and deaths as much as possible,” Chan said.

While Phase 1 of the state’s distribution plan is nearly finalized, Chan said they’re still hammering out the details for the later phases.

The state will not be administering the vaccines and is only in charge of redistributing them to the vaccinators, which will include doctor’s offices, pharmacies, hospitals and community clinics, according to Chan. Rhode Islanders will be able to choose where they receive the vaccine.

The doses will arrive in Rhode Island via UPS and FedEx, according to RIDOH, and hospitals statewide already have the equipment needed to store them.

As of right now, RIDOH said the vaccines will not be stored at a state facility, meaning pharmacies and other vaccinators are in the process of setting up their own storage systems.

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