BURRILLVILLE – Town officials are in the process of planning several COVID-19 vaccination events for residents age 75 and older, and those who qualify to receive the vaccine will soon have the chance to register online.
While some of the specifics are still in the planning stages, town officials announced this week that the events will be held on February 20 and 27, and March 3 and 13 at Burrillville Middle School from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The town will release links to the online portal once sign-ups are officially open, which will be published on NRI NOW on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 4 p.m.
Information will be made available on the town, police department and library websites, as well as on NRI NOW. For those without access to technology, information will also appear in The Bargain Buyer.
According to Town Manager Michael Wood, around 1,500 Burrillville residents qualify for this first round of vaccines, according to town voter rolls.
“The biggest problem is trying to fit everybody in,” Wood said.
But Wood noted that the town-run events will not be the only option available for vaccinations. Several pharmacies, as well as regional and statewide centers are also expected to roll out vaccine programs in the upcoming days.
“There’s going to be multiple alternatives for residents once everything is up and running,” Wood said.
The first several town-run events will target residents age 75 and older, as dictated by the Rhode Island Department of Health. State authorities have determined the number of vaccines to be distributed weekly to each community in Rhode Island, based on population. as well as the target population for municipal vaccination efforts.
But the state has left it up to each municipality to create its own process for reaching out to residents, and determining when and where vaccines will be distributed to that target population.
In Burrillville, Emergency Management Agency Director Glen Biddiscombe is organizing the events, and is now in the process of gathering his team of volunteers.
An online portal will become open to Burrillville residents once plans are solidified, and the town will release links that can be accessed on a computer or smartphone, where residents who qualify for this round of vaccines can enter their information.
Each link will close once all vaccines allocated for each event are accounted for.
Lisa Rabideau, administrative assistant to Col. Stephen Lynch, is just one of several town officials who has been receiving calls from concerned residents since the vaccination effort was announced last week. She notes that until the portal is open, there is no way to register.
“When the links are available, we’ll let people know,” said Rabideau.
Rabideau recommended that friends and family should be prepared to help elderly residents who are not proficient with technology.
Beginning on February 10, those with no other way to register can call (401) 710-7800 for assistance, although it will not ensure access to a vaccine on any specific date.
Organizers are also asking residents to plan on helping relatives who need transportation, once an appointment is scheduled, those with no other means to get to the vaccine site can call (401) 710-7800.
Once all town residents age 75 and older who want the shot have received it, the team will direct efforts to the next oldest age bracket.
Wood said his office has received many calls about the regional vaccination event that took place last Saturday in Smithfield, when town officials were given just two days to identify vaccine candidates.
“We were given notice at the last minute,” Wood said. “We didn’t have time to get a message out to the community. That created confusion.”
Moving forward, he noted that Burrillville’s team is focused on clear communication, and letting people know what to expect and when.
A new notice with the most-up-to-date information from the town was published on the Burrillville NOW page on Wednesday, Feb. 10, along with a registration form that can be filled out in advance to make the process easier.
Links to vaccine registration will be published on this website as soon as they become available.
“They’re going to fill up quickly,” Rabideau said.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with the latest information from the town of Burrillville. The full advertisement can be found here.