Rhode Island health officials released a timeline Thursday for residents 65 years and older to begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
State health officials unveiled updated plans for vaccine distribution at their weekly briefing on Thursday, according to WJAR-TV. The plan calls for those 65 years and older, and certain other groups, to begin getting the vaccine in mid to late February.
State officials have been criticized for not opening up eligibility for the 65 and older group earlier but said they weren't receiving enough vaccine to begin administering it to that group, which includes about 189,000 people.
“The approach we are taking for the next phase of the vaccination campaign is firmly grounded in the science and the data on how to use our currently limited vaccine supply to prevent the most hospitalizations, to prevent the most deaths, and to get the economy fully open again as quickly as possible,” said Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the state Department of Health. “We want to get as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible. But without enough vaccine to vaccinate all eligible people right away, we have to be extremely targeted and strategic in our approach.”
Vaccination of the overarching 75 and older group is scheduled to begin in mid-February.
Right now, only health care workers, first responders, and nursing home and assisted living facility residents are receiving the vaccine.
Nearly 65,000 people have received the first dose of the vaccine, and about 22,000 have been given the second dose.
The next phase of vaccinations, including the 65 and older group, calls for a decreasing age eligibility as more vaccine becomes available.
The phase also includes eligibility for Rhode Islanders over 16 with underlying health conditions like kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and anyone who is immunocompromised.
State health officials are still working on how people will register for the vaccine, and what proof of identification they will have to show that they are eligible to receive the vaccine.