PROVIDENCE — Rhode Islanders as young as 50 will become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, but if you want to snag an appointment that day, go to a pharmacy website.
That’s because the state is sticking to its schedule of releasing appointments for the mass vaccination locations on Tuesdays and Fridays on its VaccinateRI.org website, while pharmacies and other state partners let residents book appointments any day of the week.
Appointments “will continue to be made available on Tuesdays and Fridays for the mass vaccination sites, but our pharmacy partners and other vaccination partners release [appointments] throughout the week,” said Tom McCarthy, executive director of the COVID-19 response team at the state health department. “It will change first thing in the morning on Monday, so Sunday after midnight and going through the morning, [residents 50 and older will] become eligible.”
However, it’s not yet clear if retail pharmacies, such as Walgreens and Woonsocket-based CVS Health, will begin releasing appointments on Sunday shortly after midnight or some time Monday morning.
Matt Blanchette, a spokesman for CVS, said Friday that the company’s vaccine portal will reflect the state’s updated eligibility by including residents 50 and older on Monday morning.
“As we receive more allocation, we’ll activate more locations,” said Blanchette. “Appointments are only offered once we have received the inventory.”
CVS, which receives its inventory from the federal government, and not from the state, updates its website on a rolling basis instead of releasing rounds of appointments at a specific day or time. This is unlike the state, which is set to release 12,000 vaccine appointments for state-run mass vaccination sites on Friday at 5 p.m.
“Updating eligibility is separate from updating availability. We update eligibility based on states’ guidance, which varies from state to state,” said Blanchette. “We update availability based on our allocation we receive from the federal government.”
Blanchette said he recommends Rhode Islanders to continuously check the CVS portal for updated locations and appointment availability. Residents can also call the CVS hotline at 800-746-7287 to book an appointment.
A Walgreens spokeswoman told the Globe Friday that although she could not provide a specific time as to when appointments will be made available Monday on the company’s vaccine portal for those 50 and older, she said it will be “on the early side of the morning.” She also said Rhode Islanders can call the company’s phone scheduler, which is available in English and Spanish, at 1-800-925-4733 to make an appointment beginning in the morning, not midnight, on Monday.
The news comes as some parts of Rhode Island are already accepting appointments for those who are at least 50 years old.
On Friday, the city of Providence announced that residents of five additional hard-hit ZIP codes can begin registering for a vaccine appointment for clinics that will take place on April 8 and April 9. The ZIP codes are 02904, 02905, 02907, 02908, and 02909.
Those interested in getting vaccinated on April 8 should register here for a slot at the Tri-County Health Center in North Providence. Appointments for April 9, also at Tri-County, are available here. Residents who need assistance signing up for an appointment can dial 3-1-1 or 401-421-2489 to speak with the Mayor’s Center for City Services, which will have representatives available who speak English or Spanish.
The state announced earlier this week that Rhode Islanders 16 and older who live in one of the eight hardest-hit ZIP codes could register for vaccine appointments at state-run mass vaccination sites and participating pharmacies. The additional appointments are intended for residents of communities most affected by COVID-19, including parts of Providence, Cranston, and North Providence, as well as all of Pawtucket and Central Falls. The ZIP codes are 02860, 02861, 02863, 02904, 02905, 02907, 02908, and 02909.
Residents can register online at VaccinateRI.org or by calling the state hotline at 844-930-1779.
Outside of these 13 ZIP codes, the groups currently eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine are Rhode Islanders who are 60 or older, those who are 16 to 64 with specific underlying health conditions, and people who were part of previously eligible groups, which includes health care workers, public safety workers, teachers, and child-care providers.
Governor Dan McKee plans to make all adults in the state eligible on April 19.