The state will open up vaccinations to everyone 65 and older starting Monday (2/22). On Thursday (2/18), state vaccination locations in Providence and Cranston will start vaccinating members of the general public age 75 and older. The move marks a departure from the slower, more measured approach the state has taken up to now, one state health officials insist has yielded tangible results but also a lower number overall of people vaccinated.
In defense of the state’s vaccine rollout, at a press conference Wednesday, the R.I. Dept. of Health’s Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott said the state had seen a 46 percent drop in COVID-19 hospitalizations since the vaccine program began, compared to 32 percent nationally and 22 percent in neighboring states. While noting there were other factors in play, including improved treatments to keep people with COVID out of the hospital, “there is also clarity that our strategy is meeting the main objectives.”
Those objectives? To protect people in nursing homes, which have borne a huge number of COVID-19-associated deaths, and making sure the state’s healthcare infrastructure was healthy.
“I know people want doses administered more quickly,” Alexander-Scott said. “We get it 100 percent.”
Thus the pivot to state-run vaccination sites open to older segments of the population. The two sites – the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence and at Sockanosset Crossing in Cranston. The new approach gives people two ways to schedule an appointment, either online at VaccinateRI.org or by calling (844) 930-1779. Right now, the phone is automated, but the plan is to have it staffed with real people soon. RI DOH officials recommended those unsuccessful at booking an appointment by phone should check back daily or enlist help to sign up online, which has more appointment availability.
EG residents 75 and older, don’t despair! The Town of East Greenwich is also continuing to vaccinate those who have registered with the town in weekly clinics that began Tuesday and will be run for the next three Tuesdays – Feb. 23, March 2, and March 9. The town only has 90 doses to administer each week, but Town Manager Andy Nota is h0ping by mid-March most residents 75 and older will have received their first dose of vaccine, whether at Swift Community Center, a state site, or at CVS or Walgreens. According to Nota, on Wednesday, East Greenwich and some other municipalities petitioned the state and the Dept. of Health to increase in the amount of vaccine being distributed to cities and towns that are equipped to dispense it so cities and towns could take care of their older residents
“Our hope is to secure a sufficient supply to accommodate all remaining 75+ residents, although we are still working on it,” he said.
If you are 65 or older, you can still sign up for the town’s registry HERE, but the town is vaccinating the oldest residents first, so chances are those aged 65 to 74 will probably be getting the vaccine at a state site, CVS or Walgreens.
Alexander-Scott also said the state will be getting more first vaccine doses starting next week – from 16,000 a week to 22,500. Even with the increased number of doses, she warned it might be difficult to book an appointment at first because the demand is so high.
“We could get to the point where people are logging in and not able to make appointments,” she said. “We are asking people to be patient.”
If you have questions about how and where you can get the vaccine, let us know and we will do what we can to find the answers.