PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island on Monday expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to anyone age 40 and older who lives, works or goes to school in the state.
The state has also expanded vaccine eligibility to anyone age 16 and older who lives in one of several neighborhoods in Cranston, Johnston, North Providence, and West Warwick that have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.
Woonsocket on Friday opened eligibility to all city residents ages 16 and older.
“Everyone should get vaccinated as soon as you’re eligible. We’re doing everything we can to make vaccine as accessible as possible in Rhode Island, especially in the communities that have been harder hit, such as our higher density communities and our communities of color,” Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the state Department of Health, said last week.
Getting vaccinated is especially important as virus variants take hold, driving up the number of confirmed cases in 19 of the state's 39 municipalities, she said.
The state plans on making 7,600 additional COVID-19 vaccination appointments available on Tuesday morning at www.vaccinateRI.org. The appointments will be for state-run mass vaccination sites at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, as well as Woonsocket, South County, and Cranston and at the regional clinics in Johnston, Westerly, and East Providence.
The state has put these sites along Rhode Island Public Transit Authority bus routes.
“We know that transportation can be a barrier to vaccine access,” Gov. Dan McKee said in a statement. “Many vaccine and testing sites have been purposefully located near RIPTA transportation routes to increase accessibility. We hope RIPTA service options will make it easier for Rhode Islanders to access vaccine clinics that are convenient for them.”
More than 298,000 people in the state, more than 28% of the total population, have already been fully vaccinated, according to health department data.