#406vaxxed and proud campaign encourages student vaccinations

The Missoula Education Foundation (MEF) announced their #406vaxxedandproud incentive campaign Monday, April 26. The campaign’s goal is to get all 16-18-year olds in Missoula County vaccinated against COVID-19 by June 1. This will help reach the goal of 75% of the community vaccinated to achieve community immunity.

Any 16-18-year-olds who live in Missoula County and are currently enrolled in a participating high school can enter once they have completed their first dose. Deadline to show proof of first dose is June 4. Students can show their vaccine card at the front office in their school.

Students are eligible for prizes once they are fully vaccinated. The grand prize is an e-bike from Missoula Bicycle Works. The second and third place prizes include scholarships, computer gaming packages and Chromebooks. There are also many gift cards from local businesses as well as Griz Gear for #406vaxxedandproud prize winners.

Missoula County Public Schools Superintendent Rob Watson said he is really excited to be partnering with MEF.

“We know the importance of getting our 16-18-year-olds vaccinated,” Watson said explaining that the percentage of 16-18-year-olds that have been vaccinated is only half that of the other age groups. “There is really no reason for that. We have plenty of vaccines and options for kids and we know now is the time to get that done.”

Watson said when students are fully vaccinated, they will not be considered a close contact if there is a confirmed case at school. He also spoke with businesses who employ students and told them to encourage their employees to get vaccinated.

“Once they are fully vaccinated that means they will not miss work allowing your businesses to stay open,” Watson said. “There are lots of really good reasons for students to get vaccinated, we have plenty of vaccines to do it so now is the time to do it.”

Watson said MCPS’s goal is to get students vaccinated before the summer. They have hosted vaccination clinics in the Missoula High Schools including Willard. However, Seeley-Swan High School did not host a vaccination clinic.

According to MCPS Communications Director Hatton Littman, following a survey of eligible SSHS students, only four students expressed interest. While MCPS would have loved to have seen a clinic at SSHS, without the interest it was not reasonable to pursue.

Littman recommended students in Seeley Lake get vaccinated at Missoula clinics. Another option is to encourage the Missoula City-County Health Department or Partnership Health Center to host another vaccination clinic for the community.

When asked if another drive-thru clinic would be held in Seeley Lake, Missoula County Health Officer Ellen Leahy said they do not have any clinics currently scheduled. However, the communities will be notified through the local media when the mobile clinic is live.

MCPS will host another vaccine clinic for MCPS students from 7:30 - 10 a.m. Monday, May 3, at Sentinel High School. It is open to all students but they must be accompanied by a parent.

Leahy said while Missoula’s case numbers continue to decline, there are several states including Michigan that are seeing a new spike in COVID cases in the children with higher rates of hospitalization. Currently 57% of Missoula County residents have received their first dose but only 30% of 16-18-year-olds have received their first dose.

“If we don’t get this age group vaccinated, they will remain susceptible and we could see more upticks in that age group,” Leahy said. “In additional to incentives, one of the reasons to get vaccinated now is that it protects everyone around your child, everyone in the family, it allows them to mix with other children with their summer [and end of year] activities and if you do it soon, then your child is not only protected from the disease but also the variants of the disease which are emerging and are much more contagious.”

This incentive campaign is a part of the county’s “Come Together: Vaccine for every Montanan” effort to encourage Missoula County residents to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine and combat misinformation by providing widespread accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccines. Visit http://www.missouledfoundation.org for details about the prizes and eligibility rules.

All other vaccine clinic options in the county are updated on https://covid19.missoula.co/get-vaccinated/. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one available to 16- and 17-year-olds. Eighteen-year-olds can receive the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccine.


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