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PROVIDENCE — Since vaccination distribution began in mid-December, state health officials have defended their “targeted” approach to Rhode Island’s rollout, which focused on inoculating health care workers and nursing home residents first.

Soon after, some municipalities quietly set up small clinics to vaccinate their most frail and elderly residents. Most clinic locations were not made public, and those who did have access shared appointment links with friends and family, many of whom were ineligible. The health department asked residents to stop sharing the registration links.

In early spring, the state finally unveiled its online portal and hotline for appointments at the state’s two new mass COVID-19 vaccination sites. But younger people who are not yet eligible were able to book appointments.

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Here are some questions and answers to help you navigate the system.

Who is eligible for a vaccine?

All Rhode Islanders age 12 and older are now eligible for the vaccine. However, residents between 12 and 15 may only receive the Pfizer vaccine at this time.

I’m eligible for a vaccine now. Where can I register?

To book an appointment, go to VaccinateRI.org or call the hotline: 844-930-1779.

Some CVS and Walgreens retail pharmacies also have doses. To book an appointment at a CVS, go to their vaccine portal or call 800-746-7287. For Walgreens, register for an account and then go to their vaccine portal or call your local store.

Is any vaccination location accepting walk-ins?

Yes. The Globe recommends calling a clinic beforehand to make sure they have enough doses left.

At the mass vaccination sites, will I have to wait outside? What happens when I get inside?

Appointments are spaced out so that you should be indoors at all times.

The state says it is trying to keep wait times at a minimum, but there could be delays. If you’re not able to stand for a period of time, the state recommends bringing a wheelchair or a walker with a seat, if you have one.

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At all vaccine locations, you probably won’t be asked for a photo ID or an insurance card, because all of that would have been confirmed when you made your appointment (plus you don’t need either to get a shot). But bring them with you anyway, just in case.

Finally, you’ll get a vaccination confirmation card telling you which vaccine you received, the date, and location of your vaccination.

What if I don’t show up to get my vaccine? What will happen to that dose?

If there is any leftover vaccine, there is an emergency list of individuals who will be contacted to receive the dose that day. But health officials ask that you please cancel rather than not show up.

What happens if I register with multiple places to get a vaccine?

It’s unnecessary. Schedule an appointment in just one place, health officials say, so that all eligible residents can get vaccinated as quickly as possible.

I am homebound and cannot leave my home. How and where do I get vaccinated?

The health department shared this form to collect information about homebound seniors for planning purposes. The form does not register anyone for an appointment, nor does it guarantee one. It can be filled out by a health care provider or the caregiver of someone who is homebound. The form is not available offline. Homebound seniors who are unable to fill out the form can request assistance by calling The Point, the state’s healthy aging helpdesk, 401-462-4444.

Some providers, such as Care New England’s Integra Community Care Network, are already vaccinating their members who are housebound. If their patients are eligible and on the Integra program, Integra will reach out and schedule the vaccine visit. The VNA of Care New England has also vaccinated VNA patients 75 and older who are unable to walk and/or get out of bed.

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Do you have a vaccine-related question you’d like answered? E-mail it to rinews@globe.com and we’ll add it to this list.


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz.