Dunkin’ Donuts Center to be one of several mass vaccination sites across R.I.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The rapid COVID-19 testing site at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center is now officially closed as the Department of Health announces new plans to turn it into a mass vaccination site.

Joseph Wendelken with RIDOH says the hope is for the site to open by the end of the month. He says timing is dependent on supply and how many doses they get from the Federal Government and when.

“We wanted to make sure we had these state-run vaccination sites in very large accessible locations so that’s why we made the decision to repurpose the space at the Dunk,” Wendelken said.

The mass vaccination site will replace the old rapid walk-in site for asymptomatic Rhode Islanders, which will now move to a new location on Dorrance Street. That site is set to open later this week.

“We have seen a little bit of a decrease in the last few weeks in the demand for testing, but we do have plenty of testing sites around the state so we’re trying to make it as accessible as possible,” Wendelken said.

As the focus shifts from testing to vaccinating, Wendelken says there will be three types of vaccination sites available to the public as long as they qualify. Those include pharmacies and regional and local sites run by cities and towns.

“The third type is what we’re calling large state-run vaccination sites, so that’s the category the Dunkin’ Donuts Center would fit into,” Wendelken said. “We’re envisioning setting up between 5 and 10 of these across Rhode Island. These will be large sites, accessible sites in central locations where our goal is really going to be volume. We want to do as many shots as possible.”

Aside from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, one of the sites will be in Cranston in the same building as the field hospital. That site is currently vaccinating members of the National Guard, but will transition into a mass vaccination site for the public.

All sites will eventually use a similar system that’s used to book appointments for testing.

“We envision doing something similar, having an online system where people will be able to go in and make an appointment at one of a number of sites, the Dunk being one of them and then get vaccinated,” Wendelken said.

As a reminder, the change only impacts the site inside the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The drive-thru testing site at the Convention Center is still up and running.

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