Gov. McKee tours state-run mass vaccination site in Middletown

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MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island released another batch of appointments on Friday, its largest to date.

On Saturday, Gov. Dan McKee toured the state-run mass vaccination site in Middletown.

Cameras were not allowed inside the former Benny’s store, but the governor said the site is impressive.

“Very organized and people are very, very emotional about the fact they are getting their first or second shot,” McKee said.

The Middletown site has the capacity to give 7,000 doses a week. McKee said the state’s capacity is built with the hope of an increase in supply in near future.

“I think we could be close to having as much as 200,000 shots a week. I’m not sure any state could vaccinate 20 percent of their eligible population the way Rhode Island can, we just need more supply,” he said.

Starting Monday, residents age 50 and older will be eligible to get the vaccine. The following week, eligibility will expand to 40 and older.

On April 19, people age 16 and older can get a shot. McKee said 78 percent of the eligible population are expected to be vaccinated by mid-June.

“There will be music in Newport this summer and I would hope there will be fireworks in every community in Rhode Island by July 4th,” he said.

“Newport is a tourism based economy. We’re just hoping for a better summer,” Newport City Manager Joe Nicholson said.

The West Main Road site has been up and running for more than three weeks.

Newport City Manager Joe Nicholson said having a nearby site on Aquidneck Island has been convenient for residents.

“The intimacy of the approach is they key here. It’s an exciting time. It’s been a long road but we’re getting there,” he said.

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