PROVIDENCE — The state’s new online portal to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at one of the two mass vaccination sites is now allowing residents who are 65 and older to sign up for shots.
More than 10,000 new appointments will be made available today at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence and the Sockanosset Cross Road site in Cranston, according to state health officials.
Residents who cannot register online can call the health department’s automated line at 844-930-1779. Select CVS and Walgreens pharmacies and regional clinics with cities and towns also have started registering appointments for residents who are 65 and older.
However, the state said appointments may not be immediately available for all Rhode Islanders. As of Monday morning, all vaccine appointments with participating CVS retail pharmacies were fully booked, and Walgreens pharmacies are booked for the next three days.
Many cities and towns continue to vaccinate their oldest residents first, and the supply of vaccine doses remains limited at all sites, said state health officials.
Prior to the state’s announcement Monday morning, there was confusion over when people who were older than 65 could begin signing up for shots. Some residents reported to the Globe that they tried unsuccessfully to book an appointment on the VaccinateRI.org portal Monday morning. At one point, the website said only those age 75 and older were eligible for appointments, and then shortly after the guidance changed to the new age criteria, there was no button for users to click and actually sign up for a shot. By early Monday afternoon, the issue had not yet been resolved.
State health officials could not immediately be reached for comment as to why there was a glitch with the portal.
The news comes as residents who are younger and not yet eligible for a shot were able to jump the line and book an appointment in Rhode Island in the first few days of the mass vaccination sites being open. The health department previously said that the state would cancel appointments made by younger residents who were not yet eligible, but it remains unclear if that happened.
Joseph Wendelken, the spokesman for the health department, told a Globe reporter that there would not be a breakdown of who was vaccinated until later this week.
However, last Thursday — the first day vaccine appointments were available — there were a lot of people getting vaccinated, not just older adults. According to data from the state’s health department, 16 percent of those who received a vaccine at the mass vaccination sites on Thursday were under the age of 65, while 40 percent of those who were vaccinated were between 65 and 74 years old and 44 percent of the vaccine appointments were for people 75 and older.
Wendelken said some of the younger residents who received a vaccine were outpatient health care providers, first responders, long-term care facilities staff, and others.
Approximately 9,900 Rhode Islanders were vaccinated at the two state-run sites over their first three days, which were Thursday through Saturday. The state said that Rhode Island’s vaccine administration rate has increased by 89 percent over the last six weeks.
In December, an average of 1,300 doses were administered per day. That figure was 2,700 doses per day in January and 5,100 doses per day in February.
More than 203,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to date in Rhode Island, according to figures provided by the Rhode Island Department of Health.