Rhode Islanders who are 60 to 64 years of age and those 16 and older with specific underlying health conditions will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting Friday.

Rhode Island residents ages 16 to 64 are eligible to be vaccinated if they have medical conditions -- such as type 1or type 2 diabetes; lung disease, heart disease or kidney disease -- or weakened immune systems due to pregnancy, cancer, HIV/AIDS or other medical issues. (See the Health Department’s full list of qualifying medical conditions.)

Residents who are 16 and 17 are only eligible to receive Pfizer vaccine.

The expanded eligibility, announced jointly by Governor Dan McKee and the state Health Department, came hours after residents flooded to sign up for shots at Lifespan clinics after news reports that the state's largest hospital system had expanded its eligibility guidelines ahead of the state-run clinics. By late Thursday morning, all of Lifespan’s clinics were full, Lifespan spokeswoman Kathleen Hart said in an email.

“Our goal is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, and opening eligibility to this next group of Rhode Islanders is an important and encouraging step toward that goal,” Gov. McKee said in a statement “We will continue to build out and increase our state’s vaccination capacity to ensure we are prepared to get shots in arms when the vaccine supply increases.” 

 New appointments at the three state-run vaccination clinics -- at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, in Providence; on Sockanosset Cross Road in Cranston, and at 1400 West Main Rd., in Middletown --  will be added to www.VaccinateRI.org beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday. (New appointments are regularly added on Tuesdays beginning at 9 a.m. and Fridays beginning at 5 p.m.) 

 Walgreens and CVS also are expected to expand their eligibility criteria to include these new groups at 11 a.m. on Friday.

 Residents who cannot register online for an appointment at a State-run site through www.VaccinateRI.org can call 1-844-930-1779.

 To make an appointment through CVS, go to CVS.com, use CVS Pharmacy phone app or call 800-746-7287. To make an appointment through Walgreens, go to Walgreens.com/ScheduleVaccine or call your local Walgreens.

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Health reporter Lynn Arditi can be reached at larditi@thepublicsradio.org