Two of Missoula County's highest ranking health officials appeared on the KGVO Talk Back show on Monday to answer questions about the COVID 19 pandemic and the current vaccination effort underway.

Health Officer Ellen Leahy and Director of the Missoula County Office of Emergency Management, Adriane Beck spent an hour talking with KGVO listeners.

Beck answered a question about where the Health Department received its authority to shut down businesses and institute the masking mandate, stating that all the authority came through the state and county emergency declaration.

“Whether it's a flood, fire, earthquake, or in this case, a pandemic, our standard protocol is to request the county commissioners and the city of Missoula to sign an emergency declaration or emergency Proclamation,” said Beck, Director of the Missoula County Office of Emergency Services. “What that does is that that passes some emergency authority to those elected officials to control egress into and out of areas and to take additional actions that may be necessary to bring whatever disaster we're facing into control.”

Leahy answered a question about why individuals may react differently to the second vaccination, even though there may have been very little reaction to the initial vaccination.

“The immune system says, it’s like, ‘I've got something going on here’ and it's going to start producing the things that it usually does, lymph and so on and so forth. Then with that booster, your immune system does know now because it's seen this before. So the first one is ‘what is this?’ and the second one, ‘I know what this is’, and ‘I'm going to fight it off.’

Beck, also the leader of the Missoula County COVID 19 Vaccination Team, addressed a question as to when more restrictions might be lifted. She said the more people who become vaccinated, the quicker restrictions can be lifted.

“One of the things that we're anxiously trying to get our community vaccinated for is so that we can get back to some sense of normalcy and so that we can begin to look at when some of these restrictions that are currently in place can go away,” she said. “We can't do that until we get a sufficient number of our residents in Missoula County vaccinated and across the entire state.”

Beck said for those who are waiting to be vaccinated, they need to be proactive and contact the county website and make an appointment.

“People need to be persistent,” she said. “Currently if you're in Phase 1 B plus over 60 years old or have any of the underlying health conditions that are called out, we encourage you to register today. Beat the rush you know, don't wait for it to be wide open. Get in there today. We really do want to get those most vulnerable people vaccinated as quickly as we can.”

Listen to the entire conversation with Leahy and Beck here.

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