WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to protect Rhode Islanders, improve public health, and effectively distribute doses of COVID-19 vaccine to all who need it, U.S. Senator Jack Reed continues to push the federal government to provide the state with more vaccine doses and additional resources and support to open up more distribution points.

Today, Senator Reed announced $64,889,924 in new ‘expedited’ funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to pay for critical vaccine supplies and staffing that can help protect and save lives.   The federal funds are being made available to the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) for costs related to the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic under the federal disaster declaration of March 27, 2020.

“This is good news for the state that will help offset the costs of operating vaccination sites across Rhode Island to rapidly distribute and administer as many COVID-19 vaccine doses as possible in an effective and efficient manner.  We’re seeing some steady progress, but we’ve got to do more.  I commend RIEMA, FEMA, and their partners for working together to ensure the state can tap into these federal funds in a timely manner and ensure that more Rhode Islanders can get vaccinated,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.

The federal funds may be used to pay for a range of vaccine support activities, including:

  • Supplies needed to safely store and administer the vaccine.
  • Transportation and security support for refrigerated doses.
  • Staffing for medical and support staff.
  • Public engagement and outreach support.
  • Training personnel on vaccine distribution and administration.

During President Biden’s first month in office, the U.S. has boosted vaccine distribution to states by about 57 percent.  Last week, the Biden Administration increased the number of doses it ships to Rhode Island over 4,000 doses, and this week Rhode Island is scheduled to get another boost of 1,000 more does beyond that level in the next federal shipment.  And in addition to shipping vaccine doses directly to states, the Biden Administration is also distributing them to pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens that have distribution infrastructure in place, and has plans for sending new vaccine doses directly to community health centers as well.

According to federal data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 65 million vaccine doses have been administered to Americans nationwide, including over 211,600 doses in Rhode Island.

Senator Reed says accelerating the vaccination effort has taken on increased urgency as new, more transmissible coronavirus variants emerge worldwide.  He is working with colleagues in Congress to provide $14 billion to accelerate vaccine distribution and research, in addition to a $1.75 billion fund to help scientists spot and contain virus mutations.

“We’ve got to keep working to ensure every person who needs a vaccine can get one.  We still have a long way to go and we’ve got to keep at it.  Good communication and transparency are key so people have the facts, know where to go, and can make informed decisions.  And of course you need resources to get the doses to people and that is why this advance payment for Rhode Island is critical, but more federal aid is needed and I will continue working to direct more help back to the state,” concluded Reed.