Providence, Pawtucket expand vaccine eligibility to all adults in hard-hit ZIP codes

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The city of Providence is expanding the eligibility for vaccines to all adults ages 18 and older across five ZIP codes that have been hit harder by the pandemic than the rest of the city.

Residents of Providence who live in 02904, 02905, 02907, 02908 and 02909 became eligible on Monday.

Appointments started to be posted on the city’s vaccine website Monday, and more clinics are expected to be posted online. The city is receiving more than 4,200 doses this week for community partners such as pharmacies and health centers to administer the shots. Another 1,600 shots allotted for second doses are set to be administered by the Providence Emergency Management Agency this week.

Residents can also call 311 from within the city of Providence to get an appointment.

“We hope to get as many shots in the arm as quickly as possible,” Mayor Jorge Elorza said in a virtual news conference Monday morning. “The sooner we can get everyone vaccinated, the sooner we can return back to normal.”

In explaining the rationale behind vaccinating certain ZIP codes faster than others, Elorza pointed to statistics from the R.I. Department of Health that show people 25 and older in high-density ZIP codes in the state have had higher hospitalization rates than people 60 and older statewide.

He noted that not everyone who is eligible will be able to get an appointment right away, as supply is still limited.

Elorza’s office on Monday corrected an earlier statement that the 18+ residents could also go to the state-run vaccination site at the Dunkin’ Donuts center, after the R.I. Department of Health said that is not yet the case.

“We are exploring ways that we can use the State-run sites to increase vaccination rates in communities that have been harder hit, but right now the eligibility criteria are not changing for the State-run sites,” spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said. “The Providence and Pawtucket eligibility changes that the cities are announcing today are for city-specific sites.”

Eligibility at the state sites remains 60 and older, or 16+ with underlying conditions.

The city of Pawtucket also announced expanded eligibility on Monday to all residents 16+, city officials said appointments will be released Wednesday.

Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls have all been able to expand eligibility to younger residents earlier than the rest of the state, as the cities were battered by the coronavirus and had higher rates of infections and hospitalizations. Providence’s expansion has only included certain ZIP codes, leaving out the East Side, which has had lower coronavirus rates than the rest of the city.

The rest of the city– and the state is currently vaccinating people 60 and older, in addition to Rhode Islanders ages 16 and up who have certain underlying health conditions.

Gov. Dan McKee announced last week all Rhode Island adults are expected to be eligible for a vaccine appointment by April 19, though he said they might not be able to get a shot quickly after that date because of limited supply.

Steph Machado (smachado@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence, politics and more for 12 News. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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