Health care workers to receive first round of COVID-19 vaccine

Governor Steve Bullock announced Monday, Dec. 7 that the first round of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine expected to be delivered to Montana in mid-December will target health care workers at Montana’s major hospitals.

 “For nearly nine months, Montana’s health care workers have worked tirelessly to care for the people of this state, putting their own health at risk,” said Governor Bullock. “By prioritizing the vaccination of those on the frontlines, we can help ensure our hospitals can continue serving patients while we continue to manage the spread of this virus in our communities.”

 The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is expected to receive an estimated first dose allocation of 9,750 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines by Dec. 15. Second round doses will be provided to the state in a separate shipment prior to the second dose schedule, which is 21 days apart from the first. The federal government requires that the first dose of this particular vaccine be shipped and delivered directly to facilities with cold storage access.

 Round one allocations will be provided to 10 health care facilities in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell and Missoula’s two hospitals Providence St. Patrick Hospital and Community Medical Center.

 The allocation each location receives will be based off of a survey conducted by DPHHS with Montana hospitals on the estimated number of health care workers that will receive the vaccine.

With the requirement of cold storage and 975 doses per box with the Pfizer vaccine, the plan to allocate the first round to Montana’s large hospitals for their health care workers is the most expedient and best utilizes the resources available.

 Montana is anticipated to receive a second round shipment of vaccines a week subsequent to the first round that will contain both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. The second round allocation will focus on rural hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.

The Moderna vaccine includes 100 doses per box and does not require cold storage, making it more easily delivered to rural settings or small facilities. 

 Missoula City-County Health Department emphasized that while some Montanans will receive the vaccine in the next few weeks, the state is in the very early phases of vaccine distribution. The general public will not be offered vaccinations for several months.

Following distribution to frontline health care workers, residents in long-term care facilities will be the next group offered vaccine access. Those residents will get vaccinated through their care homes who have arranged partnerships with local pharmacies.

The Health Department is organizing a group to keep in touch with all local COVID-19 vaccine providers. They also stress that all providers registered to give the vaccine are required to follow the federal priority tiers.

The Health Department does plan to provide for folks who do not have a health care provider and eventually the general public. However, that is dependent on vaccine availability. Those details will be released as they become available.

Detailed vaccine information is available at The Health Department reminds residents that the threat of COVID-19 is still here. Everyone is encouraged to continue taking precautions including washing your hands, wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and keeping social circles small.

Those curious about getting the vaccine are encouraged to reach out to your health care provider.


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