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Kent Staff Among First in RI to Get COVID-19 Vaccine

[CREDIT: CNE] Kent Hospital staff and leadership were among the first to take the COVID-19 vaccine this week.

WARWICK, RI  — Telling people the COVID-19 vaccine is safe isn’t the same thing as showing them, so the executives and staff at Kent Hospital are putting their money where their mouths are.

Kent was among five RI hospitals to receive about 1,000 doses each of COVID-19 vaccine earmarked for frontline hospital workers early this week, a turning point in a long pandemic experts say will end on roughly the same scale it started – measured in months, not days.

The Trump administration’s politicization of the federal public health response to COVID-19, which included the Operation Warp Speed, an initiative setting a goal to produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines starting in January 2021, part of a broader strategy to accelerate development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics, has raised some concern about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.

But health officials and medical experts were outspoken in their adherence to the science as the usual bureaucracy of vaccine development was re-organized to allow speedy manufacture and delivery once an effective, safe vaccine was thoroughly tested, as explained in a recent Business Insider article.

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“The review process for the COVID-19 vaccine was extremely rigorous, and did not skip any steps” said Kerry LaPlante, Pharm.D., a Rhode Island COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee member and Professor of Pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island. “COVID-19 vaccines were held to the same high safety standards as every other vaccine. This may be the most important vaccine I received in my lifetime. In getting immunized, I can help save lives and protect the health of my community, my friends, and my family. It’s all of our responsibility to protect our community and the persons we love.”

The vaccine trials for the COVID-19 vaccine involved tens of thousands of people to make sure they meet safety standards and people of different ages, races, and ethnicities. There were no serious safety concerns. (When vaccinated against COVID-19, people do sometimes develop post-vaccination symptoms such as soreness at the spot of the shot and headaches. This is normal, healthy, and expected. It means your immune system is working to develop protection.) Several systems are in place to do ongoing safety monitoring of the vaccine.

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“Rhode Island’s COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee was watching the process every step of the way,” said Larry Warner, Subcommittee member and Director of Grants and Strategic Initiatives for United Way. “Every Rhode Islander should know that local experts and community leaders reviewed all available information about the safety and effectiveness of this vaccine, in addition to the thorough review at the national level. Getting vaccinated is going to be an important step to keep ourselves and our communities safe.”