WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee rolled up his sleeve to get his third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday and urged other eligible Rhode Islanders to do the same.
McKee, 70, is one of the roughly 130,000 people in the state eligible for a booster shot, which include people ages 65 and older and residents of long-term care facilities.
Watch: Gov. McKee’s remarks (story continues below)
Those getting a booster shot should be at least six months removed from receiving their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
“Many of the people who are now eligible to receive a booster shot got their initial shots early in the vaccination campaign and will benefit greatly from additional protection,” said Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the R.I. Department of Health.
“By and large, all of us who are fully vaccinated are very well protected, but it’s helpful to know that for these specific populations who are at higher risk, booster doses are now available to you,” she continued.
Watch: McKee gets booster shot (story continues below)
The Health Department offered the following guidance to other eligible groups:
- People ages 50–64 with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot
- People ages 18–49 with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot, based on their individual benefits and risks
- People ages 18–64 years who are at increased risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot
Nearly 5,000 Rhode Islanders have gotten a third dose since they became available, according to the Health Department.
“Boosters are safe, they’re effective, and they’re recommended by the CDC,” McKee added.
Watch: Dr. Alexander-Scott’s remarks (story continues below)
While some people are seeking out an additional vaccine dose, roughly 129,000 Rhode Islanders have yet to get their first dose, McKee said Thursday.
“We want people to know that we’re living in a state that’s safe. But we still have challenges, and we need to make sure we get the booster shots and other people vaccinated,” he said.
The briefing was held one day before the Oct. 1 deadline for all health care workers to get vaccinated. McKee called the requirement “crucial” in protecting Rhode Islanders, especially those who are more vulnerable.
“Our health care workers have to be vaccinated to stay healthy and to keep others healthy,” McKee said. “We cannot put vulnerable patients at risk when they come to our facilities seeking care.”
A short time after the briefing, a U.S. district court judge denied a request from a group of health care workers seeking a restraining order against the mandate.
Tom McCarthy, executive director of the state’s COVID-19 response team, discussed preparations for getting children ages 5 to 11 vaccinated, which is dependent on federal approval and guidance. Last week, Pfizer said trials showed a smaller dose of its vaccine — roughly a third of what’s given to adults — is safe and effective for the younger age group.
Watch: McCarthy’s remarks (story continues below)
McCarthy anticipates that once the green light is given, those vaccinations will be administered using existing channels — pharmacies, municipal and state-run sites, school-based clinics — but he expects parents will be most comfortable going through their children’s doctor.
“Start having those conversations now,” he advised parents. “Questions are normal. Questions are good. The best place to go with those questions is your health care provider.”
McCarthy said the state is working with pediatric practices so they’re able to provide the vaccine. Of the 134 located in the state, he said 53 are now set up, with many already administering doses to kids 12 and older.