The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine boosters are now available in Rhode Island for people ages 65 and older, those with underlying medical conditions, and residents of long-term care facilities, state officials announced Friday.  

Roughly 130,000 Rhode Islanders may be eligible for the Pfizer boosters, and demand for vaccinations is expected to be higher for the next six weeks, state officials said in a statement, and they urged eligible residents to schedule appointments

The move follows the Sept. 23 authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency authorization of booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine for certain populations, following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

Gov. Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) said in a joint statement that the booster vaccinations are available and recommended as follows:

  • People 65 years and older and residents in long-term care settings (regardless of age) should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series; 


  • People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series;

 

  • People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks;

 

  • People aged 18-64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine at least 6 months after their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks.

To ensure that enough vaccines are available at the sites and reduce wait times, residents are encouraged to schedule appointments for the booster shots online at C19vaccineRI.org. People who need assistance making appointments can call: 844-930-1779, (401)222-8022, or 211.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 booster is the same dose given for first and second shots of Pfizer vaccine. 

The FDA is expected to review Moderna’s data on COVID-19 booster doses in the coming weeks, health officials said in the statement. Data are still being collected on the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine before they can be presented to the FDA for possible booster consideration.

People are asked to review the new guidance, the statement said, and self-attest that they are eligible to receive booster doses.

State health officials also are working with nursing homes, assisted living communities, and other congregate care settings to ensure access to the Pfizer booster. For more information about the homebound population visit: https://covid.ri.gov/vaccination.

 Health reporter Lynn Arditi can be reached at larditi@thepublicsradio.org. Follow her on Twitter @LynnArditi