PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island is on track to meet Gov. Dan McKee's target of making everyone in the state age 16 and older eligible to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine by April 19, health officials said Tuesday.
Federal allocations of vaccines will make that possible.
“We have a pretty good sense of what our allocations are going to look like, by beginning of June, mid-June, getting 100,000 doses per week in the state,” Tom McCarthy, executive director of the COVID-19 Response Team, said at a virtual meeting of the state COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee.
About 70% of the population should be fully vaccinated at that point, he said.
“So, in order to reach herd immunity, getting as many people vaccinated that are 16 plus is critically important,” he added.
The state is also stepping up efforts to vaccinate more people of color, who have been hit particularly hard hit during the pandemic.
The age-adjusted hospitalization rate among Hispanic or Latino Rhode Islanders is 4.6 times higher than the rate among white non-Hispanic Rhode Islanders, while the age-adjusted rate among Black or African American Rhode Islanders is 2.6 times higher, according to the Health Department.
Two independent pharmacies in Rhode Island started offering coronavirus vaccines on Tuesday.
Matt’s Local Pharmacy in Middletown and Suburban Pharmacy in Warwick are the first two independently-owned pharmacies in the state to offer vaccinations, joining dozens of CVS and Walgreens locations.
Matt’s Local Pharmacy has received around 300 doses from the state and will vaccinate people from Tuesday through the weekend. They expect to get more doses in April.
“We are excited. It’s a little nervewracking to some extent, but I think overall we’re prepared,” co-owner Matt Olivier told WLNE-TV.
Matt and Erica Olivier opened the pharmacy three years ago and said their customers have been eagerly awaiting a shot from them.
“People have been asking for a while like ‘When are you going to get it there,’ anticipating it, they knew we were going to get it eventually," Erica Olivier said. “People were very anxious and I think they’re really excited that we finally have it and we’re just relieved to be part of the, hopefully, beginning of the end.”
Appointments for both locations are made through the state vaccine portal.
The state on Tuesday opened up 5,500 more vaccine appointments at the portal, Gov. Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health announced.
McKee also said that residents age 16 and over in Central Falls and Pawtucket and several hard-hit ZIP codes in Providence, Cranston and North Providence are now able to register for appointments at state-run sites and participating pharmacies.
Nearly 335,000 people in Rhode Island have recieved at least one dose of a vaccine, while about 215,000 people, or roughly 20% of the state's population, have been fully vaccinated, according to state Department of Health numbers.
TRENDING THE WRONG WAY
Three key statistics used to measure the spread of the coronavirus in Rhode Island are heading in the wrong direction, according to state Department of Health numbers released Tuesday.
The rate of new cases per 100,000 population has jumped to 266, up from 223 last week.
New hospitalizations per week increased slightly to 119 up from 116, while the weekly percent-positive rate went from 2% to 2.4%.
The department also reported almost 350 new confirmed cases of the disease and five additional virus-related deaths.
There have now been almost 137,000 confirmed cases and 2,618 fatalities.
The number of patients in the hospital with COVID-19 dropped to 123 as of Sunday, down from 126 the previous day.