WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The line can be thin for exactly who can get the COVID-19 vaccine in Rhode Island.
The R.I. Department of Health announced Thursday that people ages 60 and older and those 16 and older with certain health conditions are now eligible to get their shot.
Warwick resident Ashley Lasater told 12 Responds she’s confused as to why her condition did not make the list.
“Decreased lung function and difficulty breathing,” Lasater said. “I was diagnosed with asthma as a child.”
The medical condition has left Lasater feeling more safe at home, a place she didn’t leave for six months.
“It’s been absolutely terrifying,” she added. “It’s changed the whole life of my family.”
Lasater said a common cold can send her to the hospital, which is why the state’s vaccine distribution getting underway was one of the best days of her life.
Now, three months later, Lasater is wondering when she will be eligible.
“It’s been very confusing, honestly,” she said. “Looking at the list it says lung issues, but only specific issues and certain conditions.”
“It’s kind of hard to tell when you’re actually eligible to get it done because it’s not listed, but you do have some of the symptoms of conditions that are,” Lasater continued.
The medical conditions listed by the Health Department as being eligible include type 1 and 2 diabetes, lung disease, heart disease and kidney disease.
“People aged 16 to 64 are also eligible if they have a weakened immune system. That includes people who have cancer, people who get chemotherapy or radiation, people who have HIV or AIDS, people who have sickle cell disease, people who take medicine that weaken the immune system, and people who are pregnant,” Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott explained during Friday’s briefing.
According to the Health Department, the list also includes people with significantly decreased lung function, but Lasater said it’s difficult to tell if she qualifies.
“I am not 100% sure yet,” Lasater said. “I actually called my primary care doctor and I’m waiting to hear back from her to find out if, you know, with everything she knows about the condition of my lungs, if I’m OK to sign up. It’s hard after so long to be patient.”
That is exactly what Alexander-Scott is asking people of Rhode Islanders, to try and be patient.
The director explained that vaccine supply is still limited so it may take a while to secure an appointment, but the state’s allocation is expected to increase in the coming weeks.