Certain cities expand vaccine eligibility to 50+

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WLNE) – While statewide eligibility remains at 65 and older, some cities are taking the initiative to speed up that timeline and include residents 50 and older.

Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien announced plans to do just that beginning as soon next week. That means for people like Deb Asermely, the wait is almost over.

“I’ve been very careful,” Asermely said. “It’s just so nice to know it’s finally going to be my turn.”

Deb is a 57-year-old from Pawtucket. She’s also high-risk.

“I felt relief. I’ve been type 1 diabetic; I was diagnosed at 16,” Asermely said, “From what I’ve heard, the virus has not been kind to diabetics.”

But, she’s not going to be eligible based on her condition, but rather her age and where she lives. The Department of Health says they are partnering with communities most at risk for the virus like Pawtucket, Central Falls, and Providence. Those cities have the opportunity to expand eligibility sooner and target certain areas.

The City of Pawtucket announced residents 50 and older will become eligible beginning March 15th. In a statement, Mayor Donald Grebien said, “There continues to be a strong demand for vaccination from our diverse community. We are pleased to announce that we continue to work with the State through the HDC in order to get more vaccines in the arms of those in need. I urge everyone to continue to sign up on the form so that you can be contacted as soon as more vaccine is available.”

Residents can sign up to recieve notifications on when those appointments are listed here: http://www.pawtucketri.com/covid-19-vaccination-information-request-form

The City of Providence also taking steps to include the 50 and older age group by targeting residents in certain hard hit zip codes. Mayor Jorge Elorza announced expanded eligibility for residents 50 and older in zip codes 02904 and 02905. That’s in addition to the already eligible zip codes 02907, 02908, and 02909. Residents in those zip codes can make an appointment online at VaccinatePVD.com.

Other cities and Rhode Islanders across the state are still following the 65 and older guidelines set forth by the Department of Health. The department says they plan to add the next group in mid-March, which includes those 60 to 64 and anyone 16+ with an underlying health condition. People 50 and older are expected to be phased in come April.

Deb says while she’s happy she’s included because she lives in Pawtucket, she thinks high-risk individuals should have been included earlier.

“Personally, I think we were kind of put back too far,” Asermely said. “I think 75-year-olds should’ve gotten it right away. I think high-risk should’ve been in with 65.”

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Pawtucket, Rhode Island