From Governor Gina Raimondo:
Yesterday, I discussed how important getting your flu shot is to our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. One of the key reasons that Rhode Island has been a national leader in flu vaccination is that we have built the infrastructure to make getting your shot easy, fast, and inexpensive no matter where you live in the state.
Rhode Island’s leading vaccine program is governed by the State’s Vaccine Advisory Committee. Today, I announced that I am convening a special subcommittee of this group with the sole focus of planning for the COVID-19 vaccine.
This subcommittee is comprised of epidemiologists, primary care providers, pharmacists, pediatricians, long-term care advocates, ethicists, nonprofit leaders, school leaders, faith leaders and others. We are lucky to have so many expert voices in Rhode Island to advise us on one of the most important aspects of our COVID-19 response and recovery. The subcommittee will be tasked with two specific things:
- First, the subcommittee will be responsible for developing an independent process for evaluating the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. Dr. Alexander-Scott and I will not approve of any vaccine being distributed to Rhode Islanders unless we are absolutely confident in its safety.
- Second, the subcommittee will advise us 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.
And let me be clear: a vaccine will not be a quick ticket out of this pandemic. It takes time for vaccines to be distributed and for vaccine immunity to catch on. It takes even more time for viral immunity to be established without a vaccine. The emergence of a vaccine won’t end COVID at the flip of a switch – we’ll be living with this virus for more than a year.
What it will do is speed up the timeline back toward a full sense of normalcy. It’s another tool – along with masks, and social distancing, and every other tool we have – that, taken together, will allow us to accelerate our state and national reopening.
So, we’re being very cautious, and there’s still a lot we don’t know. And I know there’s a lot of information out there, and every day there’s something new in the news about the status of COVID-19 vaccine trials. I also know there’s a lot of uncertainty and concern. So, when it comes to vaccines, I’m going to do what I’ve done every stage of this crisis: I’m going to be upfront and transparent, I’m going to tell you what we know and what we don’t know, and I’m going to update you each step along the way.
We’re all in this together.