PROVIDENCE — Governor Daniel J. McKee said Thursday that he plans to open vaccine eligibility to all Rhode Islanders 16 and over on April 19.
“That does not mean that everyone will receive a vaccine on the twentieth,” said McKee.
He said that he will be sending a letter to the White House requesting 50,000 more doses be allocated to the state in order to meet President Biden’s goal of opening eligibility to all American adults by May 1.
Just last week, the state opened eligibility to Rhode Islanders who were older than 60 and those residents who were 16 and older with specific underlying conditions. However, the demand has already far outpaced supply.
“Supply increases are on the way,” said Tom McCarthy, the executive director of RIDOH’s COVID Response.
On Thursday morning, the state announced that it would release 1,500 first-dose appointments for Friday and Saturday on VaccinateRI.org for the Middletown mass vaccination site. This is in addition to the first-dose appointments that will be added on Friday for time slots in the near future.
McCarthy said the state is expecting steady increases in both Pfizer and Moderna allocations, as well as a very large increase in doses of the Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine.
McCarthy said that he expects the state will be able to start administering 160,000 doses per week by the end of March, depending on supply allocations from the federal government.
Additional community sites will likely open in the coming weeks, with plans to open a site in Westerly and one in East Providence, according to McCarthy. He said sites will open in the coming weeks as vaccine supplies increase.
On Wednesday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said that everyone in the general public who is over the age of 16 will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on April 19.
Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Rhode Island’s health department director, said that 12 percent of the state’s residents have been fully vaccinated.
Dr. A-Scott: 136,513 people are fully vaccinated in RI. That means that, for the first time, we can say that more people are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 than have been infected. 12% of RI is fully vaccinated, which puts at the natl average, top 5 nationally for first doses.— Rhode Island Department of Health (@RIHEALTH) March 18, 2021
Alexander-Scott said that the state’s vaccine campaign is still ramping up as variants of COVID-19 are spreading. On Thursday, Rhode Island reported 19 cases of the variant from the United Kingdom, 16 cases of the variant from California, and six cases of the variant from New York.
This story is still developing and will be updated.