PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s the day many Rhode Islanders have been waiting for as the state promises a drastic increase in vaccine distribution.
The state’s first mass vaccinations sites at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in downtown Providence and the former Citizens Bank headquarters on Sockanosset Cross Road in Cranston will begin administering shots on Thursday.
The R.I. National Guard told 12 News that the Dunkin’ Donuts Center opened at 9 a.m. with 917 scheduled appointments on its first day, while the Cranston mass vaccination site had as many as 2,500 vaccinations scheduled.
“I think it’s an extremely big day. This is the general population being vaccinated against a global pandemic,” Lt. Col. Matthew Edwards said. “Any time the Dunkin Donuts Center, which is a staple in Rhode Island being involved in that, I’d say that’s a win for everybody involved but the state of Rhode Island as well.”
Edwards says after an eligible person schedules an appointment, they will park at the North Garage, or in front of the center if handicapped. Parking will be free for up to three hours.
People then will sign in at the box office and go to one of the 14 vaccination stations. After receiving their Pfizer dose, they will then wait in the observation area.
The National Guard says the total time to park, get the vaccine, and leave takes less than a half-hour.
Marion Filippe, of Lincoln, is one of the first people to grt a shot at one of the state’s mass vaccination sites and says it was an easy process.
“It was wonderful they certainly had a lot of people to help you at every stage. Very reassuring,” she said.
On Wednesday, registration opened for Rhode Islanders 75 and older to book an appointment at one of two locations. People can visit VaccinateRI.org, or call (844) 930-1779. The call center will be open on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Register for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment here »
The governor set a goal of as many as 2,800 shots per day at the Cranston mass vaccination site, but did not provide one for the Dunkin Donuts Center.
The R.I. Department of Health also announced Wednesday the state is planning to open five to ten mass vaccination sites. This coming as Rhode Island’s weekly vaccine shipment is said to increase by 6,500.
The Department of Health says this is the start of a faster pace of vaccine distribution in the state.
“We will be able to vaccinate hundreds of individuals an hour, and we needed to make sure we had the supply to be able to do that,” Health Directo Dr. Nicole Alexander Scott said.
Starting Monday, Feb. 22, Rhode Islanders 65 and older will be eligible to schedule a vaccine appointment.
“We’re investing in infrastructure, so we can have more mass vaccinations of eventually everybody, as we start now with older folks,” Gov. Gina Raimondo said.
In the meantime, anyone interested in receiving the vaccine can join the state’s notification list on portal.ri.gov.
Sign up for Vaccine Interest Notification List »
Data released Wednesday by the Health Department shows more than 113,000 people in Rhode Island have gotten the first dose of the vaccine so far, while roughly 52,000 are fully immunized.