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Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health provided the following Rhode Island COVID-19 vaccination update via email on Friday.

Note – Governor McKee is scheduled to make an announcement about Rhode Island’s reopening and mask-wearing guidance at 2 pm today. Stay with What’s Up Newp for further updates. More on that announcement is here – Mask mandate to be lifted for those fully vaccinated on May 18; most remaining COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted on May 21

Rhode Island COVID-19 Vaccination Update

Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) are writing to provide an update on Rhode Island’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts. As of this afternoon, 603,454 people have received one dose of vaccine and 488,539 people are now fully vaccinated. See the data.

We are now seventh in the country for the number of people who have received at least one dose and tied for fifth in the country for the number of people fully vaccinated. We are also third in the country for vaccinating people age 65 and older.

As of Wednesday, May 12, Rhode Island has administered more than one million COVID-19 vaccine doses!

A million doses—that’s as many doses as people in Rhode Island. Thanks to everyone who made reaching one million possible. Thank you to every Rhode Islander who has stepped up and already gotten vaccinated and helped someone else to get vaccinated as well.

We are making great progress, but we are in the final moments of the big game! We have great momentum—let’s keep going!


Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Approved for Adolescents Age 12-15

Parents and guardians can now register adolescents age 12 to 15 to get vaccinated against COVID-19. This follows the announcement from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week granting an Emergency Use Authorization to Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents in this age group.

Parents and guardians can give consent and make appointments for Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for adolescents on vaccinateRI.org [vaccinateri.org]. Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are still only available to be people age 18 or older.

It is recommended that children be accompanied by an adult for appointments at the State’s mass vaccination sites. Walk-up vaccination opportunities are also available at the sites at Sockanosset Cross Road (100 Sockanosset Cross Road, Cranston), the Dunkin’ Donuts Center (1 La Salle Square, Providence), and in Middletown (1400 West Main Road, Middletown).

RIDOH will also be working with cities, towns, and school departments to offer clinics in schools. (Schools have already been offering vaccine to students age 16 or older). The large pharmacy chains have started offering vaccine to adolescents in this age group.

Largely because children have not been able to get vaccinated, and because more contagious variants of COVID-19 are now circulating in Rhode Island, an increased proportion of Rhode Island’s COVID-19 cases are now among children.

In clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was extremely effective at preventing COVID-19 with symptoms in adolescents age 12 to 15. The vaccine was 100% effective at preventing COVID-19 infection with symptoms and led to a strong antibody response.


Vaccination Residency Requirement Will Change on Monday

As of Monday, May 17, there will no longer be a residency requirement to get vaccinated in Rhode Island. Currently, people are eligible to get vaccinated in Rhode Island based on their age and if they live, work, or go to school in Rhode Island. However, given increased capacity to administer vaccine and increased vaccine supply, Rhode Island will soon be able to open eligibility to visitors and people living in neighboring states.


Why Should I Get Vaccinated for COVID-19?  

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new disease, requiring new vaccines. It is smart to have questions about how well the vaccine works, whether it is safe for you, and if it’s easy to get. Learn why you should get vaccinated for COVID-19.


Strategic Approach for Vaccination

RIDOH and RIDE are working with all districts to ensure vaccination events occur within each district for students age 12 or older by the end of the month.

Before the authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for adolescents age 12 to 15, 59 clinics were scheduled in 45 schools to serve those age 16 to 18. Now, additional clinics are being planned for this new population.

We’re also excited to be working to improve access to vaccination in a range of other high-traffic settings to meet Rhode Islanders where they are. RIDOH is partnering with businesses to provide clinics on site. We’re going to be in State parks and at beaches this spring and summer.

We’ve held clinics at recovery centers, like Anchor and CODAC. We’ve already started vaccinating employees and shoppers at a few grocery stores, and we have plans to be at transportation hubs like T.F. Green closer to the end of the month.

We are going to be where Rhode Islanders are over the next few weeks and months.

Every eligible Rhode Islander will have every opportunity to get their shot.


No Appointments Needed

We are working to make vaccination as easy, convenient, and accessible as possible.

If you want to get vaccinated at one of the State-run sites, making an appointment in advance at www.vaccinateRI.org is still the best way to go, but appointments are no longer needed to get vaccinated at three State-run sites:

  • 100 Sockanosset Cross Road, Cranston, which is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Parking is available behind the building.
     
  • Dunkin’ Donuts Center, 1 La Salle Square, Providence, which is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Three hours of free parking are available in North Garage at 114 West Exchange St. Accessible parking is available in front of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Volunteers are available to direct people to the clinic.
     
  • 1400 West Main Road, Middletown, which is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  

Appointments are also no longer needed to get vaccinated at 80 select CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and Stop & Shop pharmacy locations throughout the state. 

To find a vaccine site near you, view RIDOH’s Vaccine Site Locator.


Reaching Rhode Islanders by Phone

As part of its homebound vaccination campaign, RIDOH recently started calling Rhode Islanders who are age 75 or older and coordinating appointments at mass vaccination sites as well as in-home vaccination appointments, if needed.

People who are age 75 or older who have not gotten vaccinated yet can call RIDOH to take advantage of the campaign. To schedule an appointment, people can call 211 or visit c19vaccineRI.org to find the number to call based on where they live.

If you are age 75 or older in Rhode Island, not fully vaccinated, and get COVID-19, you have a 50% chance of being hospitalized.

If you are an older adult who has not been vaccinated, please get vaccinated to keep yourself out of the hospital.


Now Is the Time to Get Vaccinated

There are some people who want to wait for “herd immunity” to protect them. Herd immunity is a concept that epidemiologists use when thinking about populations. That concept is not applicable at the individual level.

If you are not vaccinated and you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, there is a good chance you will get sick. And the truth is that any one of us could be exposed on any given day. Rhode Island is a small state, and we’re still identifying more than a hundred new cases most days.

You can’t wait for immunity because it’s not going to just come to you. The way to become immune is to get vaccinated.

In addition to hearing some confusion about herd immunity, we also sometimes hear confusion about natural immunity. If you got COVID-19 four or five months ago, you may not be immune to the versions of the virus that are circulating now. You may be just as vulnerable as someone who never tested positive.

The bottom line is the wait and see approach doesn’t work. It’s a recipe for getting sick, and maybe even ending up in the hospital. If you are unsure about getting vaccinated, please protect yourself and the people around you by getting vaccinated. If you are unsure about getting vaccinated, talk to a healthcare provider and consider protecting yourself and those around you by getting vaccinated.


Vaccination for People Who Had COVID-19

It is important to get vaccinated even if you have tested positive for COVID-19 previously.

Even if you had COVID-19, your body may not have had a strong immune response. However, we know that vaccines lead to very strong protection.

When we get vaccinated, we not only protect ourselves. We also protect the people around us, including children.

Additional Resources 

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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Ryan M. Belmore

Ryan M. Belmore is the Owner & Publisher of What's Up Newp. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers. Send questions, tips, and story ideas to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.