Rhode Island is now pushing to fasten the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Starting on Feb. 22, the state will allow all residents that are 65 years old and older to book appointments for vaccine shots at one of the two state-run mass clinics located in Providence and Cranston. The first appointment will be on Feb. 23.

Rhode Island to roll out the vaccine

The state has launched its central vaccination sign-up system on Feb. 17 and started booking appointments for residents who are 75 years old and older at the new clinics at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence and near the Garden City area of Cranston.

On the same day, 1,131 appointments had been booked via the phone, and through the Vaccinateri.org portal, according to Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the health director of the state, the appointments are open until Feb. 27.

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Rhode Island is just one of the many states that allow people under the age of 75 to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and for weeks, it has been at the bottom of the country's vaccination rate.

On Feb. 15, Lt. Gov. Dan McKee said that he was not satisfied with the vaccinations' pace. Dr. Alexander-Scott said that the reason why they have expanded the eligibility of the vaccine now is that the people want doses administered fast, and now they are offering shots to ages 65 and older.

Rhode Island's ability to scale up is made easier by another boost in vaccine supply. Pfizer's surge in supply of vaccines will see the weekly allotment of all COVID-19 vaccines increase from 16,000 doses to 22,500 doses.

How to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine

Rhode Island wants residents who are 65 years old and older to get vaccinated at one of the new state-run clinics in Providence and in Cranston. Those two clinics are booking 1,400 appointments every day, and that number may double in the next few weeks.

Dr. Alexander-Scott stated that municipal clinics and retail pharmacies CVS and Walgreens should vaccinate residents who are 75 years old and older, according to WPRI.

Rhode Island has set up a helpline at (844) 930-1779 where those who can't sign up for an appointment online can leave a message and get a call back for assistance. The Health Department soon plans to have a live call center open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends.

Allowing the vaccination of residents 65 years old and older will double the number of eligible residents for the shot. According to the Department of Health, there are 103,000 Rhode Island residents age 65 to 74 years and 79,000 residents who are 75 years old and older.

The state plans to absorb the different municipal vaccine-registration systems into the new state system. The Health Department stated that it is currently focused on nursing homes, the health-care industry, and other frontline workers. This strategy is expected to help reduce deaths and hospitalizations than the speed-focused system.

According to a report from The New York Times, Rhode Island is one of the five states that had limited its vaccine eligibility as they only cater to senior citizens for now.

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Written by Sieeka Khan

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