PROVIDENCE — When Governor Dan J. McKee announced last week that all Rhode Islanders would become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine on April 19, many residents wondered when they’d actually be able to get their shots. Allocations to the state haven’t been sufficient to vaccinate everyone who was already eligible, causing frustration as residents attempt to schedule appointments.
On Thursday, McKee’s administration outlined a more detailed plan, meant to eliminate some of those frustrations. The plan shows another set of phases, with different age groups eligible at different times.
On April 5, Rhode Islanders over the age of 50 will become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. About a week later, the state plans to open eligibility to those between the ages of 40 to 49. On April 19, those between the ages of 16 and 39 will become eligible for the vaccine.
In parts of Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls that have been extremely hard-hit by the pandemic, younger residents are already eligible for a vaccine in community clinics run by the cities.
In Providence’s hardest-hit ZIP codes, residents 18 and older can sign up for a vaccine by going to VaccinatePVD.com or calling 401-421-2489. In Central Falls and Pawtucket, all residents over the age of 18 can register for an appointment.
McKee said he and Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the state health director, were on a call with the White House this week and it was clear that Rhode Island’s allocations of vaccine would steadily increase soon.
Still, they reiterated that just because someone is eligible, it does not mean they will be able to secure an appointment immediately. Alexander-Scott said the state expects residents to secure an appointment about “a week or two” after they become eligible.
Two more state-run mass vaccination sites will soon open, which will make it easier for residents to find appointments. One will open Saturday in West Kingston and the other, “at the old Sears building” in Woonsocket, will open Sunday. Each sites will receive 400 doses from the state to administer to residents.
Appointments for these clinics will be made available online on Friday on VaccinateRI.org or by calling the hotline: 844-930-1779.
Rhode Islanders will also soon be able to pre-register for a vaccine on portal.ri.gov. Those who do not have access to the internet can call 844-930-1779. The system will prioritize residents based on age and if they have any underlying health conditions.
Residents will be able to choose whether to be contacted by phone, text, or email. Residents will be contacted for a vaccine slot in about two weeks, which will be for a set day and location, but there will be some flexibility on time.
Notifications will begin the week of April 4, and before eligibility further expands to those who are 50 and older.
Officials also announced that they were easing some business restrictions, increasing the number of people per a table for catered events from eight to 10, and allowing self-service seating at places like ice cream shops.