PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island marked a milestone in its vaccination efforts on Tuesday as a new age group became eligible to register for appointments.
Gov. Dan McKee announced more than a million doses have been administered in the state during an event at Rhode Island Hospital, where the first dose was administered late last year.
“I don’t think anyone would have ever thought on December 14 that we would have one million shots in the arms on May 11,” McKee said.
The State House will be lit up Tuesday night, according to McKee, to “mark this moment and remind us all to stay the course and get vaccinated.”
“We’re not going to stop at one million,” he added. “We won’t stop until every person who wants a shot gets one.”
According to new data released Tuesday by the R.I. Department of Health, more than 455,000 people who live, work and study in Rhode Island are fully vaccinated, while another 138,000 are partially vaccinated.
Health officials reported four additional deaths and 134 new positive cases, which pushed the state’s total case count since the start of the pandemic over 150,000.
Hospitalizations climbed to 104 after falling to double-digits on Monday for the first time in seven months.
The Health Department also updated its weekly data on Tuesday, which showed declines in key metrics for the third straight week: percent positive by week declined to 1.5% (from 1.6% last week), new hospital admissions by week fell to 81 (from 117) and new cases per 100,000 residents by week is down to 117 (from 157).
The state’s data shows two-thirds of eligible Rhode Islanders are at least partially vaccinated and 51% are fully vaccinated, which means the state is well on its way to reaching President Joe Biden’s goal of having 70% of American adults receive at least one shot by July 4.
“Mr. President, we have accepted your challenge and I hope we have made you proud here in the Ocean State,” McKee said. “We’re going to achieve 70% in just a few days ahead of us and that’s a sign of really good things to come.”
“We can’t let up now,” Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander Scott added.
The one-millionth dose announcement comes less than a day after the FDA expanded the emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s vaccine in adolescents ages 12-15.
On Tuesday, the Health Department announced parents and guardians are now able to register children in that age group for appointments on VaccinateRI.org. Health Department spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said in addition to the state-run sites, adolescents are also eligible to get the vaccine at municipal clinics, and pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens are expected to be added later in the week.
In a statement to 12 News, CVS spokesperson Matt Blanchette said the company is “fully prepared to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to children ages 12 – 15 at thousands of CVS Pharmacy locations nationwide as soon as permitted.”
A signed parental consent form is needed for 12- to 15-year-olds, and Alexander-Scott is encouraging parents or guardians to be present at the appointments. She also said the state will be working with cities, towns and school departments to offer clinics in schools and allow children to get vaccinated with parental consent.
“Right now, you are the group that can start thinking about helping a loved one get their shot. We are so excited that we can expand to this younger age,” Alexander-Scott said to parents.
The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still only available to people 18 and older.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisory panel will meet Wednesday to review clinical trial data and make recommendations for the vaccine’s use in adolescents.
In the meantime, Pfizer is hoping to earn full approval of its vaccine in people ages 16 and older, as opposed to authorized for emergency use.
During Tuesday morning’s meeting of the COVID-19 vaccine subcommittee, state health officials said that decision could take “several months.”
Moderna also said last week that it plans to apply for full approval this month.
Watch: Tuesday’s meeting of the COVID-19 vaccine subcommittee