Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 02-18-2021

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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2 SENIOR LIVING GUIDE FEBRUARY 18-24, 2021 | THE VALLEY BREEZE For many senior citizens, the arrival of vaccines in the first quarter of 2021 has been a welcome sign that life might soon get back to as normal as possible after months of quarantine and isolation. Those residents age 75 and older are being prioritized for vaccines in these early weeks, many who have been able to get through in obtaining an appointment expressing relief at finally getting inoculated against the dreaded COVID-19. But the rollout of the vaccine pro- gram in Rhode Island has been called lackluster by some officials, leaving many wondering how much longer they'll have to wait to get immunized. The town of Cumberland has an estimated 2,500 senior citizens age 75 and older. Many, as in other commu- nities, have been left frustrated with the complexities of signing up for a vaccine. Even though the town was able to get way more vaccinations done in the opening round than originally thought, or 440 instead of 170, early estimates on weekly vaccine numbers are still only 240, meaning that if those numbers hold true as regular local vaccine clinics get started the week of Feb. 14, 1,880 residents would be vaccinated by the town by the end of March. But Cumberland officials expect some of the backlog at the town level to be alleviated as some seniors find other ways to get vaccinated, includ- ing at local pharmacies, and that any- one age 75 and older should be able to get vaccinated by about March 10. Rhode Island had dropped to last place among New England states for its total number of vaccines adminis- tered as of Feb. 8, a reality that health officials were at least partially attribut- ing to wanting to ensure equity over speed. Attorney Gen. Peter Neronha is said to be investigating the initial rollout of the vaccines and how they were distributed. Lifespan and Care New England were reported to have vac- cinated board members and remote workers in January, meaning low-risk people were being vaccinated weeks before certain medical practitioners and at-risk elderly individuals not liv- ing in nursing homes. As of press time, the state was said to be preparing a new phone bank for those who are struggling to get signed up for a vaccine, even as the state's COVID-19 website, covid. ri.gov/vaccination, still had no way to sign up directly, instead describing yet-to-be-announced vaccination sites and linking to local pharmacies or municipal vaccine pages. People who are not eligible for vaccination will not be able to gain access to a vaccination clinic, accord- ing to the Rhode Island Department of Health. Anyone reporting to an outpatient provider vaccination clinic has to show ID and verification of employment and will be turned away if their name does not match a preap- proved list. "The state is committed to distrib- uting COVID-19 vaccines as safely, quickly, and equitably as possible," states the RIDOH. "Our goals mov- ing forward are to minimize deaths and hospitalizations, to focus on equity, and to reopen the economy. To achieve these goals, Rhode Island will use an age-based approach, with accelerated distribution to people in With vaccines, a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel By ETHAN SHOREY Valley Breeze Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com See VACCINES, Page 8 ELEANOR BENTLEY, a resident at Saint Antoine Residence in North Smithfield, receives her COVID-19 vaccine all the way back on Jan 5. Non-nursing home residents are now receiving their vaccines.

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