By Federal Emergency Management Agency
“I’m so grateful I will now be able to hug my grandchildren” is among the common phrases of hope from the guests of the Rhode Island Community Vaccine Centers. In more than a year, the Ocean State has gone from the uncertainty of how and when the pandemic would end, suffering the loss of 2,600 neighbors, to having safe and effective vaccines provide a clear path to get back to the vibrant and community-centered spirit of Rhode Island.
Our mission is to vaccinate every Rhode Island resident who wants a vaccine. This is a “whole community” effort, involving all levels of government, the private sector, faith-based groups and non-profits. So far, more than 42 percent of the state’s population has received at least one dose of vaccine. Our work together is not done, and we must continue to encourage Rhode Islanders that getting vaccinated is the tool that will help us get back to pre COVID life.
“We’re working with all of our partners, including FEMA, to make COVID-19 vaccines as accessible as possible for Rhode Islanders,” said Governor Dan McKee. “We continue to improve the vaccination sign-up and distribution process to make it as streamlined and easy as possible. With continued collaboration at the state, federal and municipal level, together, we will vaccinate the Ocean State.”
Ensuring equity of access is the primary focus of Community Vaccine Centers. Each person arriving at a Community Vaccination Center is welcomed, understood and supported. To ensure every guest feels welcomed, and their needs are met, accommodations are in place, including language support, sensory rooms, and physical accessibility support. FEMA is working with CDC staff and public health officials to engage community and faith-based organizations to help reach underserved, hesitant, and historically marginalized groups.
Thanks to the Rhode Island Equity Council, FEMA and National Guard soldiers recently registered over 400 people of African, Asian, indigenous and Latin heritage at five different community hubs. In an effort to remove barriers to vaccination, no government issued identification is required to receive a vaccine. All vaccinations are offered at no cost. We will continue working with community-based organizations to reach vulnerable communities and language minorities that lack easy access to medical providers or vaccine centers.
Everyone in Rhode Island wants to conquer COVID-19. We all have a part to play in putting an end to this pandemic and we can do it by wearing a mask, washing our hands, keeping our distance and getting our vaccine as soon as we can. And, encouraging our friends and family to do the same. The entire FEMA, State and Local Community Vaccine Center team is ready to help you get your vaccine, reach out, we are here for Rhode Island.