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‘You’ve earned it RI’: As vaccinations increase, RIDOH medical director says state is in a good spot


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ As both Pfizer and Moderna develop potential boosters to their COVID-19 vaccines, R.I. Department of Health Medical Director Dr. James McDonald said he’s unsure if they’ll even be necessary.

“That’s dependent on if we have variants that come that aren’t covered [by the vaccine],” McDonald said during his weekly interview on 12 News Now at 4.

Watch the full interview in the video above.

He said if Rhode Islanders were to need a booster shot, it would likely be administered through doctor’s offices as opposed to vaccination sites.

“We’ll have to wait and see if there’s a national message on [whether a booster is necessary],” he added. “Either way, we’ll be prepared.”

When it comes to the state’s vaccination rate, McDonald said Rhode Island “is in a great spot.”

“We’re heading in a really good direction and, quite frankly, we’ve got a nice momentum, so I’m happy with where we are going,” he said.

RI lifting capacity restrictions Friday; masks still required in certain settings

Right now, McDonald said he’s no longer concerned for the overall population getting vaccinated at this point, however, he is worried about those who don’t want to get vaccinated.

“I don’t want to see individual tragedies that can be avoided at this point,” McDonald said. “I think individuals need to assess their perspective and their risk an decide what makes sense for them.”

Earlier this week, the state lifted its mask mandate for fully vaccinated residents. When asked whether he believes this will incentivize getting vaccinated, McDonald said it all comes down to personal choice.

“We know the vaccines are working great,” McDonald said. “The people who are vaccinated just aren’t spreading disease to other people and the people who are getting the vaccine aren’t getting ill so we’re seeing great results.”

“But it really begs the question that, if you haven’t received the vaccine by now, just ask yourself, ‘what’s my barrier? How do I overcome it?’” he added.

McDonald tells 12 News that next week, his family is vacationing to Disney World. He said it’s his first vacation since November 2019.

“I think where the pandemic is heading, I won’t be needed for a week in this state, and quite frankly, I think that’s a great place to be,” McDonald said.

“Could anyone imagine that, by this time, we’d be ready to have a great summer?” he added. “We’re going to have a great summer. This is the summer we always wanted and it’s going to happen this year, so you’ve earned it Rhode Island, go enjoy it.”

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