As part of its “strategy to address COVID-19 as a manageable endemic disease”, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) today announced its plan for the transition of State-supported testing and vaccination to traditional partners and settings for providing COVID-19 services. COVID-19 services, like testing and vaccination, are now widely available through multiple accessible channels, similar to how services for other endemic diseases are made available to the public.
“Shifting these resources into our existing public health infrastructure means that COVID-19 is causing fewer disruptions to everyday life, and that ongoing COVID-19 vaccination and testing efforts can be managed by our provider partners who traditionally offer these services to Rhode Islanders,” said Interim Director of Health James McDonald MD, MPH. “While this is an important step toward managing COVID-19 as an endemic disease, it is still important to stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines for the best protection. Now, you can easily do that at your doctor’s office or a pharmacy, just like you would for the flu.”
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The COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be widely available at no out-of-pocket cost across Rhode Island through various channels. State-run COVID-19 community vaccination clinics and at-home vaccination services will be available through June 30, 2022. You can find a clinic near you at C19VaccineRI.org by clicking on Upcoming Community Vaccination Clinics. Beginning July 1, people who want to get vaccinated or boosted can call their healthcare providers or use other options available at C19VaccineRI.org, such as retail pharmacies and Vaccines.gov.
If there is an increase in demand for COVID-19 vaccine that Rhode Island’s long-standing, traditional health care infrastructure cannot support, the State is fully prepared to re-engage State-supported vaccination sites.
Community partners who want to hold vaccination clinics can email RIDOH’s Office of Immunization at RIDOH.C19VaxClinics@health.ri.gov. RIDOH will provide a list of mass immunizers that can best meet your community’s needs. This is similar to how RIDOH supports flu clinics. In addition, community partners who want to facilitate at-home vaccination services for their patients or community members can also use this list to identify immunizers who can provide at-home vaccination.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccine in Rhode Island, visit C19VaccineRI.org.
Pending a final evaluation of public health conditions later this month, testing will transition from State-run COVID-19 test sites to multiple traditional health care channels and self-testing options on July 1, 2022. The State is fully prepared to reopen certain mass testing sites for symptomatic individuals if COVID-19 Community Levels are high. If most of the State moves to the “high” Community Level at the end of the month, sites will remain open until Community Levels return to medium.
COVID-19 testing will continue to be widely available across the state. There are many places where Rhode Islanders are able to access free COVID-19 testing. Federal programs are available to support access to free COVID-19 testing for people without health insurance. If you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone who tested positive, call your primary care provider or your child’s pediatrician. Ask if they offer COVID-19 testing in their office or if they can order a test through a laboratory. Other testing options include:
- Increasing Community Access to Testing (ICATT) for COVID-19: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ICATT program can help you find where to get a free COVID-19 laboratory test whether or not you have insurance.
- Test To Treat Program: Through this program, people can get tested and – if they’re positive and treatments are appropriate for them – get a prescription from a healthcare provider, and have their prescription filled all at one location. A Test to Treat locator is available to help find participating sites. A call center is also available at 1-800-232-0233 to get help in multiple languages.
- Self-test distribution program: You can order free COVID-19 tests through the mail by visiting covidtests.gov. You won’t be asked for insurance or payment information when you order your free tests. If you have health insurance, you can also purchase self-test kits online or at local pharmacies and get reimbursed for up to eight tests per month. Contact your insurance carrier for more information.
- Some local pharmacies and clinics offer free COVID-19 testing to people who don’t have health insurance. These locations may only test you if have symptoms or are a close contact of someone who tested positive. If you don’t have insurance, the pharmacy or clinic will submit the cost of your test to a federal program for the uninsured.
For more information on COVID-19 testing in Rhode Island, visit covid.ri.gov/testing.