‘The uptake has been robust’: RIDOH medical director confident state will reach herd immunity


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ While national experts believe the country will not reach herd immunity when it comes to the coronavirus, one of the state’s top medical experts is confident Rhode Island will.

During his weekly interview on 12 News Now at 4, R.I. Department of Health Medical Director Dr. James McDonald said the state has seen “a nice vaccine uptake.”

“In Rhode Island, the uptake has been robust,” he said. “One of the things about us is, as a state, we usually lead the nation in vaccinations, so I feel pretty good about us reaching herd immunity.”

McDonald said he’s also optimistic that New England will reach herd immunity. But when it comes to the entire country reaching herd immunity, he said he’s less confident.

“Certain parts of the country aren’t seeing the vaccine confidence that we need to do that,” McDonald said. “There’s a host of reasons why that is.”

McDonald said Rhode Island will reach herd immunity one of two ways: either through vaccines or through natural infection.

“It is better to get immunity from the vaccine for a couple of reasons,” McDonald said. “One, you’re better protected from the variants. The second reason, which I think is the most important one, is it’s not fun to get sick.”

McDonald said when it comes to ending the pandemic, “it’s in everyone’s best interest to not get infected.”

He also said he’s worried with the notion that people aren’t worried with the number of younger people getting sick.

“It worries me because they’re missing the point about the variants,” McDonald said.

When asked what he thinks the state’s “weak spot” is when it comes to stopping the spread, McDonald said he worries that everyone is “getting too close to one another.”

“We’re opening things up, but the science hasn’t changed,” he said. “This virus still spreads one person to another … I think we need to be careful to not be too ‘peopley’ with each other.”

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