WARWICK, RI — The RI Department of Health will make about 4,000 first COVID-19 Moderna mRNA vaccine doses available Tuesday at 9 a.m. as officials plan for a significant increase in vaccine supply administered in the next few weeks.
The appointments will be available on vaccinateRI.org [vaccinateri.org] for March 30, April 1, April 2, and April 3 (1,000 appointments per day) at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence. Though there are more vaccine appointments than last week, the state is still doing a lot of second dose vaccinating, said Joseph Wendelken, Public Information Officer at the Rhode Island Department of Health.
“We expect to administer roughly 35,000 second doses this week.) We expect larger numbers of first dose appointments to be available next week,” Wendelken said in an update to media Monday night.”
Warwick Post took the opportunity to ask Wendelken for additional details on how the state plans to open vaccination eligibility and availability between now and April 19, when first doses of the vaccine are scheduled to be available to adults 16 years and older. Here are the questions and answers:
WARWICK POST: Will the 50-59 year old part of the vaccine schedule be skipped in favor of opening vaccines to all adults?
WENDELKEN: No, we will continue to vaccinate to the same age cohorts. However, we expect the timeline to be accelerated for everyone.
WARWICK POST: Is there any method to determine who will get an mRNA vaccine vs. the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
WENDELKEN: No, all three vaccines will be made available through our existing distribution channels.
WARWICK POST: Will the remaining age groups now have equal access to vaccine appointments? Is there any system in place to prioritize older people in the process?
WENDELKEN: We are going to continue the approach of vaccinate in age groups. The timeline will just get accelerated.
WARWICK POST: How will the state handle the remaining members of the older and high-risk groups that have yet to receive their vaccines? Will they be prioritized as they continue to seek appointments?
WENDELKEN: There will be some special efforts, such as additional visits by vaccinators to nursing homes. But generally, all eligible groups will have the same access. We expect much more vaccine to be in Rhode Island in the coming weeks and months, so scarcity should be less of an issue.