PROVIDENCE — Nearly 14 months into the pandemic, Rhode Island has reached a meaningful milestone in its vaccine rollout this week.
On Tuesday morning, outside of Rhode Island Hospital, Governor Dan McKee officially announced the 1 millionth vaccination. It was given at Rhode Island Hospital — the same location where the first dose was administered in the state on Dec. 14, 2020.
“That’s a great deal. That’s a milestone for a small state like Rhode Island,” said McKee. He said while the vaccination rollout was already in the works “before I got here,” he looked to hit the ground running when he was sworn in as governor in early March.
McKee said that when he heard President Biden’s goal to have 75 percent of Americans vaccinated by July 4, he “accepted the challenge.”
As of Monday, 66 percent of eligible Rhode Islanders are at least partially vaccinated and 49 percent have been fully vaccinated.
“We’re not going to stop at a million. We’re not going to stop until everyone who wants a shot gets one,” said McKee. “These vaccines saves lives.”
He added, “I’m grateful to every Rhode Islander that has stepped up and got their shot.”
McKee said the Rhode Island State House will be lit up to reflect the milestone, and the past year the state has had in response to the virus.
Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos said her father was in the hospital for nearly a month because of COVID-19 last year. She said she also lost two family members to the virus.
“We have to stop and celebrate the difference from where we were last year,” said Matos.
Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the state health director, said she found it fitting that the state was announcing the 1 millionth vaccine dose during National Nurses Week.
“We cannot let up now... Over the last year, COVID-19 has changed. It has evolved,” said Alexander-Scott. She said it is critical for Rhode Islanders to stay on track, get vaccinated, and to protect their communities. “Don’t just wait for herd immunity.”
The Rev. Howard M. Jenkins Jr. said he recognizes there continues to be distrust and hesitancy in some Rhode Island communities.
“We have a lot of work to do. Indeed, this is a real accomplishment. But we still have a lot of work to do,” said Jenkins. He said in order to “wave the banner of success,” a strategy needs to be developed to vaccinate the BIPOC community. “We still have to keep our sleeves rolled up.”