Source: Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) newsletter

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is writing to provide an update on Rhode Island’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts. As of this afternoon, 66,778 people have received one dose of vaccine. A total of 22,983 people have received two doses of vaccine. See the data.  
 
Rhode Island is close to the national average for total doses administered per capita, and we are just outside the top 10 nationally for second doses administered per 100,000 people. We want to get as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible. But without enough vaccine to vaccinate all eligible people right away, we have to be extremely targeted and strategic in our approach. 


Plan for Next Phase of COVID-19 Vaccine Administration

RIDOH has announced a plan for the next phase of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign. The plan incorporates national public health guidance and local advisory committee input, making vaccine available to Rhode Islanders over the coming months based on age, geography, and health status. RIDOH’s plan aims to reopen the economy as quickly as possible by reaching those most at risk of hospitalization and death. 

This next phase of the vaccination campaign will likely begin in mid-February, depending on vaccine availability. At that point, access to vaccine will depend on three factors: age, high-risk conditions, and geography.
 

  • Age: When the next phase of the vaccination campaign begins, Rhode Islanders who are 65 to 74 years of age will be able to begin making appointments to get vaccinated. (Older adults in congregate settings and people who are 75 years of age and older will have already had access to vaccine.) It will take some time for everyone in this group to schedule appointments and get vaccinated. Age will continue to be the primary consideration as more people become eligible for vaccine. 

    As more vaccine becomes available, people will become eligible for vaccine in the following order: 60 to 64 years old, 50 to 59 years old, 40 to 49 years old, 39 to 16 years old. There will be some overlap in the vaccination of each age group as additional vaccine becomes available. You can view a tentative timeline based on current vaccine allocations in the image below and here.  
  • High-risk conditions: People, who are 16 to 64 years of age who have certain underlying health conditions that put them at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, will have access to vaccine. These conditions fall into the general categories of kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and those who are immunocompromised. People with underlying health conditions in one of these five categories will be able to be vaccinated at the same time that vaccinating starts for 60 to 64-year-olds. Additional information, including definitions of these underlying health conditions, is available at C19vaccineRI.org.  
     
  • Geography: The residents of certain communities are at elevated risk for COVID-19-associated hospitalizations and deaths. Due to this disparity and given that minimizing COVID-19-associated hospitalizations is critical to Rhode Island’s ability to manage the pandemic and reopen the economy, vaccine distribution will continue in these communities. They include Central Falls and parts of Pawtucket, Providence, North Providence, and Cranston.  

How Was this Plan Developed?

This approach to the next phase of the vaccination campaign was developed in consultation with Rhode Island’s COVID-19 Vaccine Subcommittee and was informed by national recommendations, community input, and a careful review of Rhode Island data on hospitalizations, deaths, case rates, and chronic conditions.

Focusing on age, geography, and high-risk conditions rather than occupation for this next phase of the vaccination campaign will allow the State and its partners to move quickly to vaccinate more Rhode Islanders as we receive more vaccine. This updated approach for the next phase of Rhode Island’s vaccination campaign will reach significant proportions of critical workers in Rhode Island. For example, approximately 58% of K-12 teachers and staff will be included in the population at increased risk of hospitalization or death due to age, health risk, and geography.

Where Will Vaccine be Available and How Can I Sign Up? 

For the next portion of the vaccination campaign, vaccine will be available in a variety of locations, including community clinics, health centers, and pharmacies.

More information about where vaccine will be available will be announced in the coming weeks, as will information about how to register to be vaccinated. Accessibility will be a priority, both in the venues where vaccine is available and in how people will be able to register to be vaccinated.

Who is Being Vaccinated Now?

The people currently being vaccinated are mainly residents in congregate settings (such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities), healthcare workers, and people in public safety. We expect that within two weeks, additional people who are 75 and older will be able to start registering.

To be clear, older adults DO NOT need to take any action right now to schedule appointments. We will be doing very broad messaging through the media and community organizations, so people know how to sign up.

What Should I Do While I Wait for the Vaccine? 

While the vaccine rollout will take time, there is a lot you can do in the meantime to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Testing is more available now than it has ever been in Rhode Island. If you go online right now to portal.ri.gov, you can make a same-day appointment to get tested at many sites throughout the state. If you test positive, Rhode Island also has a new doctor-recommended treatment. This fast, easy, and highly effective treatment helps keep you from getting sicker and being hospitalized. To date, more than 1,500 people have taken advantage of this treatment. 

However, the earlier you start treatment, the more effective it is. If you test positive for COVID-19 and are 65 or older or have an underlying health condition, immediately call your healthcare provider and ask about treatment for COVID-19. You can find out more information about this treatment here.

What If I Already Got My Vaccine?

While vaccination will prevent most people from developing severe illness, research is still needed to determine whether it will prevent a person from getting infected entirely and spreading COVID-19 to others. After receiving the vaccine, it’s important to continue to wear your mask, social distance, get tested if you have symptoms, and isolate if you are a close contact of someone who tested positive.

Looking Ahead

We are working as hard as possible to deliver vaccines as safely, equitably, and quickly as possible as we continue the fight against COVID-19. Despite the challenges with our limited supply, we are making good progress. We expect our supply to increase over time as manufacturers ramp up production and more vaccines are authorized.

We will continue to share regular updates as more information becomes available. You can find updates on vaccination planning and answers to frequently asked questions on RIDOH’s COVID-19 Vaccine page

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