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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

UPDATED: Starting Monday, February 22, all Rhode Islanders over age 65 can sign up for COVID vaccination

UPDATED: Tips on registering for appointments 

By Will Collette

UPDATE: You've got to be pretty sharp - and plugged in - to get an appointment for a vaccination. The state expanded eligibility for shots to those between 65-74 on Monday. Now everyone over 65 can sign up...if you can find an opening.

NOTE: underlying health conditions - comorbidities like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. - count for nothing in terms of eligibility under RI's program.

Outgoing Governor Gina Raimondo has been famous for messed-up technology roll-outs and the state COVID vaccine website is another example, perhaps her last as Governor.

First, I can happily say that I managed to get appointments for Cathy and I for March 10th at the Sockanosset mass distribution site. 

On opening day, the state announced early in the morning that registration was only going to be open between 9 AM and 10 AM. When I logged on at around 10:30 AM, I was S.O.L.

This morning, I logged on just after 9 AM, I found a date when Sockanosset had openings and dove into the registration processYou you need to look at all pages with appointment listings. If there are only a handful at a given site on a particular date, you will probably lose out to other seniors all over the state who are also looking for an appointment.

Pick a site that has lots of openings.

Why? The sign-up process requires you to go through a series of listed pages and takes a long time. You can't reserve a slot until you have filled in every slot and answered every question. You need to have your insurance/Medicare membership number handy.  

Remember - hundreds of other seniors are racing to complete the same forms. Once you've properly filled out everything, you can make your appointment request.

But if you lost the race, you get a screen that basically says, "Sorry, loser, no vaccine for you."

Then you have to start all over again filling in every item, although a few items will be remembered from you last attempt, though not very many. 

Having to re-enter all the information BEFORE you can actually find out if there is a slot available really sucks and the Health Department has gotten lots of complaints. They say they are fixing the problem. Don't hold your breath.

Today, again with a 7 AM tweet, the Health Department announced that they will allow seniors to participate in Rhode Island's "Vaccination Game" ONLY on Tuesdays and Fridays and then ONLY at certain times. Here is that tweet:

As supply allows, new COVID-19 vaccination appointments at the State-run sites will be made available on Tuesdays beginning at 9 a.m. and on Fridays beginning at 5 p.m. More appointments may be posted to at other times during the week as available.

You can still try your luck with CVS or Walgrens. One friend of ours reports he got an appointment at one of Walgrens stores up in the Metro area. CVS has been fully booked every time I have checked.

And you can also sign up with Charlestown EMA to get a shot from the town's alloted doses (see below for details).

NOTE: This information is accurate (to the best of my knowledge) today. I expect the terms and conditions will change and will bring you updates as they become available.

- Will Collette


Finally, a firm, specific date has come when Cathy and I can sign up to get vaccinated. We both missed the age 75 cut-off and have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the age 65+ bracket.

This means that 1,185 Charlestown residents between the ages of 65 and 74 become age-eligible to get vaccinated against COVID. With the earlier addition of 548 Charlestown residents 75 and older, along with first responders and health care personnel, 25% of Charlestown is eligible for the shots. 

This data comes from the Boston Globe's Dan McGowan and his daily information e-mail, Rhode Map. You can subscribe by CLICKING HERE.

To date, 444 Charlestown residents have tested positive for coronavirus.

The shots will be given at the states two mass vaccination sites – at the Dunk in Providence or the facility in Sockanosset (directions above). Sockanosset is closest to Charlestown.

If you don’t want to travel that far, you can wait for the CVS on Franklin St. in Westerly to open for shots for those 65+. Today's notice did not say when other vaccination providers will start taking people 65+. 

One of my health care providers told me she received her first dose at the Sockanosset facility last Friday. She said it was very easy and commended the RI National Guard who are running the site. 

The site is set up to walk you through each step in the process efficiently. It took ten minutes to get the shot and then there was a required 20 minute observation period – to make sure you don’t keel over from anaphylaxis (a problem that is extremely rare).

She said the shot was almost painless and the site reaction very mild. I have heard from others that the soreness and other mild after effects seem to occur more often after the second dose. 

Experts advise you to “embrace” the side effects as they are signs the vaccine is working. Everyone I’ve talked to who has been vaccinated has said it’s well worth it to get the protection.

Here is the official announcement from the RI Department of Health:

Beginning Monday, February 22, scheduling will open to any Rhode Islander 65 and older.

While Phase 1 of Rhode Island’s vaccination campaign has been focused on nursing home and other congregate residents, people in high-density communities, and older Rhode Islanders, officials announced Rhode Island can now move into Phase 2 and begin vaccinating every Rhode Islander by age group.

Vaccination Details

The two State-run vaccination sites opening Thursday for anyone 75+ are the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence and Sockanosset Cross Road in Cranston. 

Other options for vaccination still include going to a select retail pharmacy or a local or regional clinic.

State officials are urging people to only schedule an appointment in one place so that all eligible people can get vaccinated as quickly as possible. Once an appointment is made, people are guaranteed a vaccine for their time slot. Due to limited supply of the vaccine, appointments are expected to fill up quickly. If supply increases, additional appointment will be added accordingly.

Registering for Vaccination at a State-run Site

To register to be vaccinated at one of the State-run sites, visit People who cannot register online can get help by calling the automated line at 844-930-1779. Going forward, the call center will be open on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. and weekends from 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 

Through both systems, an individual can either make a personal appointment or an appointment for someone else who is in the eligible age category.

Appointments are currently open through February 27. Additional appointments may be added through the week as slots open. Appointments are expected to fill up quickly.

Registering for Vaccination at a Pharmacy

People who are 75 and older can contact CVS or Walgreens about appointments at a retail pharmacy location. To register, people can go to, use the CVS Pharmacy phone app, or call 800-746-7287. For Walgreens, go to or call your local Walgreens.

Registering for Vaccination at a Local or Regional Clinic

Cities and towns are managing the registration process for local and regional clinics. Most cities and towns have been vaccinating their oldest residents first and will continue to do so. People can contact their city or town directly to learn more. This has been happening in Charlestown, though it is limited due to the small number of doses allocated to Charlestown. Here are the town's instructions to sign up for the town list:

Email Charlestown EMA the following information:

Name, Local Address, Age, Best phone number for that person or their caregiver

 - Or, if you prefer, the information may be submitted by phone to the Charlestown EMA hotline 401-218-1968, Monday - Friday, from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm.

Vaccine Interest Notification List

While people who are younger than 65 years of age cannot yet register to be vaccinated, they can add their contact information to a Vaccine Information Notification List to get updates as eligibility opens to new groups. Enrolling in this list does not guarantee an appointment for vaccination. To enroll in the Vaccine Information Notification List, visit

There is no insurance requirement to get vaccinated, and no one has to pay to get vaccinated. For more information about vaccination in Rhode Island, visit