This story was originally published at 4:50 pm on January 28. It has been updated at the bottom with an update on a pre-registration portal for the City of Newport.

The COVID-19 vaccine is coming to Newport and Middletown – next week for those residents 75 years and older and in February to a regional COVID-19 vaccination center.

Recently, Newport and Middletown officials learned from the state that the communities would be responsible for dispensing COVID-19 vaccinations. During a series of video conferences this week, Newport and Middletown leaders agreed that more would be accomplished working together.

The City of Newport and Town of Middletown are planning to open a regional COVID-19 vaccination center in mid-February.

Operating under the auspices of the state Department of Health, the “Southern Aquidneck Island Vaccination Center” will serve Newport and Middletown residents who are 75 years and older first. Once that population is fully vaccinated, other segments of the community will be served next.

The center will operate out of the Community College of Rhode Island campus on John H. Chafee Boulevard in Newport. Vaccinations will be administered by appointment only.

Leaders from both communities said it made sense to work together to maximize resources, time and offer the best service and experience possible for residents.

“Over the course of the last year, Newport and Middletown have been working closely to align our response to this pandemic, and we’re confident that once mobilized, we’ll be well prepared to administer the vaccine to our entire Southern Aquidneck Island community,” Newport City Manager Joseph J. Nicholson, Jr. said in a statement.  “We still have a ways to go until we can get back to some semblance of normalcy, but this joint vaccination site is one clear sign up hope.“

“We’re happy to be working together with the City of Newport on this critical effort,” Middletown Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said in a statement. “While the situation is fluid and evolving day to day, we wanted to get word out to our residents that there is light at the end of the tunnel and we will be doing our absolute best to get each and every one from Middletown vaccinated in a prompt and orderly manner.”

An opening date for the center and other procedures and protocols were still being worked out this week between the state, Newport and Middletown officials. Those details will be made public as they become available via each community’s website and social media channels as well as traditional news outlets.

“Aquidneck Islanders have been stepping up from day one of this pandemic and the response we’ve had so far from our call for volunteers has been overwhelming,” said Newport Fire Chief Brian Dugan. “As we begin to roll out the vaccine, we’re reminding all of our residents to continue to do their part to help stop the spread of the virus and to please sign up for our Emergency Alert system at www.CityofNewport.com/Alerts.

In addition to trained emergency personnel, the center will be staffed by qualified volunteers. For more information about how to register if you’re interested in helping, visit https://www.edwardkinghouse.org/rapid-testing-volunteers-needed/ online.

Vaccine Rollout Beginning Next Week

Starting early next week, residents 75 and older in Newport and Middletown will have an opportunity to get vaccinated for COVID-19. 

On Tuesday, the state Department of Health announced the availability of 80 doses to Middletown elderly residents as part of a wider dispersal of the vaccine for vulnerable elderly populations across Rhode Island. 

Tom Shevlin, Communications Officer for the City of Newport, confirmed with What’s Up Newp that Newport would be receiving 120 doses next week. Shevlin noted that the Newport Housing Authority, in tandem with the city, would be receiving 250 doses for their residents.

Middletown says that their residents who are 75 years old and over on the Rhode Island Special Needs Registry will be notified Friday by phone that they’re eligible to get COVID-19 shots next week at a vaccination center in Bristol. Then, if any of the 80 doses remain, other local residents 75 and older will be selected at random to visit the center next week for vaccinations. 

For those 75 and older who aren’t selected, Middletown officials said they would have their opportunity to get vaccinated starting in mid-February as part of the joint partnership between Middletown and the City of Newport. 

Officials in Newport will also be reaching out to residents who are eligible to get COVID-19 shots. Shevlin reminds residents to sign up for the city’s Emergency Alert system at www.CityofNewport.com/Alerts. The City will be in contact with important COVID-19 vaccination information in the days ahead.

RIDOH reported earlier today that 64,435 first doses of the vaccine amd 21,880 second doeses have been administered in the states. 21,880 people are fully vaccinated.

To date in Rhode Island, there have been 113,754 total positive cases of COVID-19 and 2,144 fatalities.

Related: Plan announced for next phase of COVID-19 vaccine administration

Update – On Friday, the City of Newport announced a vaccine pre-registration portal – City of Newport launches vaccine pre-registration portal

This story is developing, please check back for updates.

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Ryan Belmore has been the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp since 2012. He also currently works for Mountain News, where he serves as Senior Editor - North America for OnTheSnow. He previously worked for the New England Patriots and American Cancer Society. He currently serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).