PROVIDENCE – With Rhode Island’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout consistently ranking among the worst in the nation, Lieutenant Governor Daniel McKee earlier this week placed blame on Governor Gina Raimondo for the state’s lagging efforts.
“Like most Rhode Islanders, I am not satisfied with the current administration’s progress on vaccine distribution, especially as we see our neighbors in Connecticut ranked among the top in the nation,” said the lieutenant governor in a statement.
McKee is poised to take over as governor with Raimondo awaiting a likely confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
According to a report on state-by-state vaccination by The New York Times, Rhode Island ranks dead last on how many shots have been administered when compared against how many vaccination doses the state has received from the federal government. That report finds that of the 234,500 doses delivered to Rhode Island, only about 147,000 (or 63 percent) have been used. Alaska, meanwhile, which tops The New York Times’ list, has administered about 191,000 of its 271,550 doses delivered (70 percent). Connecticut has used 711,142 of its 914.075 delivered doses and ranks fourth in the country, the report shows.
“Speeding up vaccine distribution is my top priority,” McKee continued. “When I become Governor, I want to have all the information to be able to hit the ground running on day one.”
McKee said he would be reaching out to Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, leaders at Harvard University and his newly-formed Transition COVID-19 Advisory Group this week to “ensure Rhode Island is prepared to immediately expand its vaccine distribution capacity.”
“Our transition team has already successfully engaged all 39 municipalities in the state’s vaccination planning and enabled EMTs to administer vaccines alongside other medical professionals,” he said. “Still, we know that Rhode Island has much more work to do to get shots in arms quickly and efficiently.”
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows that nearly 100,500 people in Rhode Island have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while about 46,500 have received a second shot. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines both require two doses.
Municipalities across the state faced a tough rollout upon offering vaccinations to members of the public aged 75 or older earlier this month, with complaints of jammed phone lines and complicated, confusing online registration programs. Many cities and towns urged relatives or friends to assist the elderly with registering online to set up an appointment to be vaccinated.
Today, Rhode Island is expected to open two state-run vaccination sites at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence and the Sockanosset Cross Road site in Cranston for people age 75 and older. These sites, which will require an appointment, will vaccinate up to 500 people per-day at the Dunkin Donuts Center and 900 people per-day in Sockanosset. Please visit c19vaccineri.org to learn more.
“As more vaccine becomes available, we will expand capacity and we will open eligibility to additional groups beyond people age 75 and older,” reads the Rhode Island Department of Health’s (RIDOH) website.
Pharmacies within the state have also begun administering vaccines to the public, with CVS and Walgreens receiving 7,000 doses for people age 75 and older this week. CVS will receive an additional 3,000 doses from the federal government, according to RIDOH. To schedule an appointment at CVS, visit cvs.com, use the CVS Pharmacy app or call CVS customer service directly at (800) 746-7287. For Walgreens, visit walgreens.com/schedulevaccine or call Walgreens directly.
“Throughout this transition, my message to the public has been stay positive and test negative,” McKee’s statement concludes. “As Governor, my message to everyone involved in the state’s vaccine distribution effort will be equally as simple: Let’s get shots in arms right now."