The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in Rhode Island

Posted on 04/08/21 by Sarah Elizabeth Adler

En español | Who can get vaccinated now?

  • Adults 50 and older
  • People 16 and older with a qualifying medical condition that may put them at higher risk of hospitalization from COVID-19. A list of qualifying conditions is available online.
  • Staff and residents in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other group settings
  • Health care workers
  • Employees of K-12 schools and licensed child care workers
  • Certain frontline workers including firefighters and law enforcement
  • Rhode Islanders 16 and older living in certain ZIP codes in Central Falls, Pawtucket and Providence. More information is available online.  
  • More information about eligible groups is available online. Sign up for the state’s vaccine interest notification list online or by calling 844-930-1779 to be notified when you are eligible for an appointment at a state-run vaccination site.  

Where can I get vaccinated?

  • Municipal vaccination clinics are being hosted by cities and towns throughout the state. Appointments are required; contact your city or town directly for more information.
  • State-run vaccination sites offer vaccinations by appointment only. Schedule one online or by calling 844-930-1779. Those who have signed up for the state’s vaccine interest notification list will be contacted when they become eligible for an appointment at one of these sites. 
  • Hospital systems and community health centers are reaching out to eligible patients directly, as supplies permit.
  • Veterans Affairs facilities are vaccinating veterans, spouses and veteran caregivers. Those enrolled in the VA health care system get priority; additional appointments will go to others who are eligible based on their age, health problems and other factors that increase their COVID-19 risk. Sign up with VA to get updates on vaccine availability and to be notified when you can make an appointment. 
  • Vaccine supplies are limited everywhere and available only to those now eligible under each state’s phased plan. Most vaccine sites require you to schedule an appointment online or by phone. Appointments can be very hard to get, as available time slots are booked quickly, and you may experience long wait times on the phone. If a time slot is not available, you may be put on the site’s waiting list. Some people are signing up at multiple sites to increase chances of getting an appointment. Once you have a confirmed appointment, public health officials ask that you don’t schedule or confirm another with any other provider so that vaccine appointments stay open for others. Eligible Rhode Islanders who are homebound can fill out an online form to request in-home vaccination.
Nursing Home Staff and Residents Recieve Covid-19 Vaccine

AARP recommends that you ask your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the coronavirus vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?

Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Officials recommend that you bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, and your health insurance card, if you have one. You will not be charged, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine.

If you are prioritized because of an underlying medical condition or based on your work, you may need a note from your doctor, a pay stub or badge, or some other form of proof. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment. 

Who will be eligible to get vaccinated next?

Rhode Islanders age 40 to 49 are expected to become eligible for vaccination on April 12, according to state health officials.

AARP is fighting for older Americans to be prioritized in getting one of the COVID-19 vaccines because the science shows that older people are at higher risk of death from the coronavirus.

How will residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities get vaccinated?

Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities in Rhode Island are being vaccinated through a federal program that contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer COVID-19 vaccines via free on-site clinics. Apart from a very small number of outstanding clinics, the program is complete.

To ensure long-term care facilities still have access to COVID-19 vaccines — for new residents or staff, or for residents and staff who were initially hesitant to receive the shots — the federal government is continuing to allocate vaccines to pharmacies partnered with long-term care facilities.

Which vaccines require a second shot?

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. The recommended second-shot date is three weeks after a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s, but the CDC says an interval of up to six weeks is acceptable.

The state health department recommends scheduling your second dose at your initial vaccination appointment. At your first appointment, you should receive a vaccination record card noting when and where you were vaccinated, as well as which vaccine you received. Bring the card to your second appointment.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just one shot. 

Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for people 16 and older, while the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines are authorized for those 18 and older. 

It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like a flu shot.

Do I have to pay for the vaccination?

You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. They would be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example).

Scammers are purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP's Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.

What should I do with my vaccine card? 

You should get a small white card at your vaccination appointment with your name, birth date, name of the vaccine you received and the date it was administered. If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, bring your card when you get your second shot.

You may need your vaccine card for certain kinds of travel or other activities, so keep it in a safe place. You can take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. Experts say that posting a photo of your card to social media could make you vulnerable to identity theft. If you lose your card or did not receive one, contact your vaccine provider or your local health department to get a copy.

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?

Yes. Experts are still learning about how vaccines affect the spread of COVID-19, so the CDC still recommends taking precautions while in public — including wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Scientists are also studying the effectiveness of the vaccines against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus.

It takes two weeks to build immunity after the single-dose shot and the second dose of the two-dose shots. After that, fully vaccinated individuals can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, the CDC says. They can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless any of them are at a high risk for severe COVID-19.

This guide, originally published Jan. 11, was updated April 8 with information about vaccination efforts at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. 

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Also of Interest: 

This story is provided by AARP Rhode Island. Visit the AARP Rhode Island page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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