AARP: R.I. needs to prioritize older residents for vaccine
PROVIDENCE (AP) — Advocates for the elderly are calling on Rhode Island to prioritize vaccinating older residents against COVID-19.
The AARP's Rhode Island office on Friday demanded Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo and other state leaders revise the state’s vaccination plan to immediately prioritize vaccinations for residents 50 years of age and older.
Kathleen Connell, the AARP’s state director, said in a statement she's “alarmed and dismayed” that only 25% of vaccinations have so far been administered to Rhode Islanders aged 60 and older, according to state data.
Residents 50 and older account for nearly 98% of the state’s more than 2,000 COVID total deaths, she said.
“The current disparity is inexplicable, life threatening and unacceptable,” she said in part. “The governor and state leaders must revise the vaccination plan so that it focuses on the most vulnerable among us."
Raimondo's office didn't respond to an email seeking comment Friday, but the state's first phase of vaccine distribution calls for those 75 and older to start receiving shots in February.
The state health department has also said the state hasn’t received enough doses to offer it to all of the state's nearly 190,000 residents who are 65 or older.
“As much as we want to expand vaccination to older adults, we simply do not have enough doses to make appointments available for this entire population,” the agency said on its website. “We are hopeful that the federal government will increase our supply in the near future, which will allow us to expand vaccination to additional groups.”
More than 13,000 people have been fully vaccinated in the state, according to health department data. More than 66,000 vaccine doses have been administered — most of them, the first of two required doses.
Meanwhile, state health officials on Friday also reported seven deaths and more than 800 additional cases of COVID-19.
The state Department of Health also said there were 352 patients in Rhode Island hospitals with the virus, including 43 in intensive care units.
Rhode Island has recorded 2,083 deaths and more than 109,000 known cases of COVID-19 during the pandemic.
The state is currently averaging about 770 new cases per day, down from an average of about 1,007 earlier this month, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Rhode Island’s positivity rate is at around 4.5%, down from 7.1% earlier this month.
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