Incident Management Team will coordinate vaccination efforts

MISSOULA COUNTY - Missoula County's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) announced their development of a Type III Incident Management Team to coordinate Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccine administration throughout the county during a press conference Thursday, Jan. 14.

OEM Director Adriane Beck will oversee the effort. The Western Montana All Hazard Incident Management Team is comprised of members from local public agencies including fire and law enforcement. According to a press release, the team will coordinate the efforts of entities administering vaccinations and will provide timely information to the public. This team will remain in place until the vaccine is widely available in Missoula County to any resident over the age of 16 wanting to get vaccinated.

"We as a society have lived a life disrupted for the last 10 months, however, this disruption has not been evenly felt," Beck said. "For most, this vaccine is a gateway for normalcy. For many others, it's a life saving measure that we cannot understate. The pace with which this vaccine has been developed is nothing short of remarkable."

Missoula Mayor John Engen said the approach would be "decentralized but highly organized." Missoula County Commissioner Josh Slotnick said vaccine distributors in the county include the University of Montana, the City of Missoula's two major hospitals, the County Health Department, Partnership Health Center, All Nations Health Center, long-term care centers and commercial pharmacies.

According to Slotnick, county residents outside the metropolitan area will also benefit from the effort.

Beck compared the distribution plan to boarding an airplane.

"The process goes much quicker when those waiting to board are ready to get in line when their section is called and that those who are not yet in the queue continue to wait," she said. "Getting wide participation and vaccination among our citizens is one of the most important things that we can do amid this global disaster."

According to Beck, the county and its vaccine providers are anticipating Phase 1a of the plan to be complete "in the very near future." She and her team will be monitoring data to reflect not only what has been accomplished but also what can be expected in the immediate future.

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