PROVIDENCE — The COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for Rhode Island has not yet prioritized teachers under the age of 65. Yet, on Friday evening, Walgreens’ vaccine portal listed “school staff members or childcare workers” as eligible to receive the vaccine in Rhode Island.
The move comes just days after President Biden called on states to begin prioritizing teachers and related staff as essential workers in the vaccination schedule.
CVS Health was the first to make teachers and related staff eligible to receive the vaccine, which a spokesman for the company said it was doing to align with updated Federal Retail Pharmacy Program guidelines. The retail pharmacy chain, which is part of a federal partnership, made appointments available to pre-K through 12th grade educators and staff and child-care workers in all 17 states where the retail pharmacy currently offers COVID-19 vaccines, which included Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Shortly after, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that all K-12, early educators, and school staff would be eligible for vaccine appointments on March 11.
Alex Brown, a Walgreens spokesperson, told a Globe reporter recently that Walgreens would be updating eligibility requirements for its COVID-19 vaccine scheduler to include these school and childcare related staff workers in Massachusetts to align with Baker’s news.
However, in Rhode Island, newly sworn-in Governor Daniel J. McKee, who has said he would like teachers to become eligible soon, said Thursday that more guidance would come out next week. And because Walgreens is not part of the same Federal Retail Pharmacy Program as CVS, and instead receives allocations of COVID-19 vaccine from the state of Rhode Island, they had not yet made teachers eligible on their portal at the time.
It’s unclear why Walgreens began allowing teachers to book a vaccine appointment on Friday. A Walgreens spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.