‘I’ve been waiting for this’: Rhode Islanders aged 50+ now eligible for a vaccine

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The wait to become eligible for a vaccine is over for Rhode Islanders in their 50s.

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) opened vaccine eligibility for people aged 50 to 59 Monday, making it so anyone over the age of 50 and people aged 16 and up with underlying health conditions are eligible for a vaccine.

“We’ll open up the next, 40 and over, the following Monday on the 12th and then 16 and over on the 19th,” said Governor Dan McKee Monday.

The next round of vaccine appointments to open up will be on Tuesday, with more than 7,000 appointments for state-run sites and regional clinics.

“It will be nice to have a little bit of normalcy back,” said Julie English of East Providence.

English, 50, became eligible on Monday and was able to score an appointment for Wednesday. She said the process was a breeze compared to weeks ago when she was helping older friends try to get a slot.

“It has gotten easier over the last couple of weeks. Initially, it was really hard to get an appointment, you had to be really competitive with everybody else. But the last two times I went in, you could pick and choose very easily which vaccination you wanted and which place you wanted.”

She said it’s been frustrating to see others younger than her jump the line due to Rhode Island using the honor system for vaccine appointments.

“I know people that were signing up that weren’t eligible. Ultimately the goal is to get the most people vaccinated as possible and that’s a good thing, right? But it was just hard to wait when I knew other people are getting appointments and there were people that were older that haven’t had appointments yet.”

As eligibility expands and new sites open up, McKee said the state will soon be able to administer 200,000 vaccine doses a week, but the supply coming in is still lower than demand.

“Our demand is high, our supply is not as large as our demand,” McKee said. “We have the capacity now to actually have people pre-register on appointments, and they can do that right now, and they can be called as well. So, this is the time to be preparing to get your shot, and then also, it’s also the time to continue to have the discipline to keep yourself safe.”

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Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island