Governor Steve Bullock, in conjunction with the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, has unveiled the updated COVID 19 vaccination distribution plans that incorporate new federal recommendations along with an estimated timeline.

DPHHS Public Information Officer Jon Ebelt said on Wednesday that a number of individuals have already been vaccinated.

“Probably one of the most important things is that 17,000 Montanans have been vaccinated in just the first couple of weeks,” said Ebelt. “Those are 17,000 health care personnel across the state who have been vaccinated and more every day as we get updates on a daily basis, so that's a great start.”

Ebelt then described the process of moving to other phases of the vaccine rollout.

“As we move to Phase 1 B, which are federal recommendations including those 75 years and older, those residing in congregate care, inmates and staff in correctional facilities, and a long list of frontline essential workers, American Indians and other people of color who may be at elevated risk for COVID,” he said. “Then later on in March or so, we move to Phase 1 C and those are persons aged 65 years and older, persons 16 to 64 with high risk medical conditions and a list of essential workers.”

Ebelt said Montana is not a state that requires anyone to receive the vaccine, and that counties are autonomous when it comes to healthcare decisions.

“Montana of course is a decentralized state,” he said. “So the state works with the local county health department's but they are autonomous from the state, but they will no doubt take this very seriously in terms of the recommendations that have been passed down and making sure that the critical populations that should be receiving the vaccine first do, and we'll make sure that happens.”

Ebelt emphasized that the proposed schedule depends completely on the availability of the vaccines to the state.

Vaccine shipments enter Montana through state and federal allocations. This week’s state allocation will include 6,825 Pfizer and 6,400 Moderna doses that will be shipped to pharmacies assisting with long-term care facilities, hospitals, community health centers, local county and Tribal health departments and others throughout the week.

DPHHS has enrolled 200 providers to receive and administer vaccines.

Montana will be able to fully utilize this network once vaccines become more readily available.

 

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