The Corner

Politics & Policy

Another Strong Contender for the Worst State Vaccination Program

Back on October 7, Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo announced she was convening a special subcommittee of the state’s Vaccine Advisory Committee “with the sole focus of planning for the COVID-19 vaccine” and to advise the state “on prioritizing the distribution of the vaccines to make sure we give ourselves the best chance of protecting Rhode Islanders and speeding up our recovery.”

Despite the early start in planning, the Ocean State ranks near the bottom nationally in its use of allocated vaccine doses.

According to the CDC, Rhode Island has administered 70,419 of 149,225 allocated doses — or 47.1 percent. According to Bloomberg’s chart of data, Rhode Island has administered 73,994 of 149,225 allocated doses — or 49.6 percent. The Rhode Island Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard also shows 73,994 total doses administered. As of this writing, Rhode Island ranks 46th out of the 50 states in percentage of doses administered.

And those who are getting vaccinated are mostly on the younger side; only a quarter of those vaccinated are over age 60, infuriating the state chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons. AARP Rhode Island state director Kathleen Connell is circulating a petition demanding the state revise its vaccination plan to prioritize vaccinating those 50 and older.

“Now that the state has responded to AARP Rhode Island’s call to make the state’s COVID vaccination plan and its execution more transparent, I am alarmed and dismayed to find data only now available reveals that just 25 percent of vaccinations to date have been administered to Rhode Islanders age 60 and older,” Connell wrote. “The current disparity — which flies in the face of federal health recommendations and causes great concern for many older Rhode Islanders and their families — is inexplicable, life threatening and unacceptable.”

Rhode Island residents won’t have to worry about Raimondo for long; she is expected to be confirmed as President Joe Biden’s nominee to be Secretary of Commerce in the near future. Her replacement isn’t in a hurry to move on to senior citizens, either.

Lt. Gov. Dan McKee, who is set to become governor when Gov. Gina Raimondo steps down to join President Joe Biden’s Cabinet, says teachers, school support staff, members of the General Assembly and elected statewide officeholders should be moved up on the priority list.

Perhaps Rhode Island seniors should consider committing crimes and getting incarcerated, to move ahead in line. The state started vaccinating incarcerated persons over age 65 in January. Adults 75 and over are projected to start in February.

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