Eligible Rhode Island residents will be able to make appointments starting Wednesday to get a coronavirus vaccine at one of two mass vaccination sites scheduled to open this week.
The state-run sites at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence and the former Citizens Bank building in Cranston are scheduled to open Thursday.
Residents, starting with those age 75 and older, will be able to book an appointment either online or by phone at 844-930-1779.
Beginning Monday, Feb. 22, scheduling will open to any Rhode Islander 65 and older.
The Providence site will have an initial capacity to administer 500 shots per day, while the Cranston site will be able to give 900 daily shots at first.
Officials are suggesting residents have patience with the process as the limited supply and high demand will lead to appointments being filled up quickly.
The vaccine rollout in the Ocean State has been widely criticized, even by the incoming Governor Dan McKee.
On Wednesday, the health department again defended the rollout strategy that it says was meant to preserve the health care system and those most vulnerable living in nursing homes and in congregated settings.
RIDOH contends that the strategy is time-consuming and pushed back when the state reached Phase 2 and began vaccinating Rhode Islanders in a certain age group.
“With the success of Phase 1 in shoring up our health care system, and the ability for speed and scale in Phase 2, Rhode Island is well-positioned to stay ahead of COVID-19,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo in a statement. “Now, with a single website and phone number to sign up for appointments at any of our State-run sites, we’re taking our successful testing model and bringing it to this final frontier in our fight to end this pandemic.”
The health department says that their Phase 1 efforts have paid off by preventing more severe cases of COVID-19.
It expects Phase 2 will work at a faster pace than the previous one.
RIDOH says the state will continue to work with towns and cities.