Rhode Island’s Department of Health decides who is eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, and how doses are distributed within the state. But the final step, getting the vaccine into a person’s arm, in many cases falls to small, municipal governments, who are managing an emergency response of unprecedented scope and duration.
The basketball court inside the East Greenwich Swift Community Center these days is covered by ten folding tables. Red, white and blue banners hang from a railing around the gym. At each table sits a pair of volunteers, equipped with gloves, cleaning supplies, a sharps container, and one small vial of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine.
On six days over the past three weeks, firefighters, police officers, school nurses, and home health and hospice workers arrived at this small brick building to get their shot.
“This is an emergency activation unlike we've ever had,” said East Greenwich Town Manager Andrew Nota.