On Tuesday, Governor Greg Gianforte issued an order making it easier for local and rural pharmacies to provide vaccinations to their customers, or others who may not be able to access the vaccine through normal channels.

‘The directive authorizes pharmacists to use any health care provider, who is licensed by Montana or another state and who is qualified to administer vaccines under his or her scope of practice, to assist in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines for the duration of the state of emergency. The directive also temporarily waives a restriction on the number of pharmacy technicians a registered pharmacist may supervise for the purpose of administering the COVID-19 vaccine and conducting associated administrative duties and procedures.’

Eric Beyer, President and owner of Granite Pharmacies in western Montana said the governor’s order makes providing vaccinations much easier for local pharmacies.

“This is a really helpful directive from the governor,” said Beyer. “It's something that we've been talking about for a good two months to try to get us some support and some help within the pharmacy. There was some funny wording in the rules and regulations in regards to nursing and pharmacies that didn't allow pharmacies to hire nurses or bring in nurses to help us vaccinate.”

Beyer also pointed out another hindrance for local pharmacies.

“We also had a regulation that said we could only have four technicians per one pharmacist,” he said. “When we have all these extra requirements from the federal government and the state to report on this, then we have trouble getting our daily work done, so to relax a couple of these requirements and to work through them will open up more vaccine spots for a lot of these pharmacies especially in the rural communities.”

Beyer said one of the main complications is that two of the three vaccines require two doses.

“The problem is that just due to timing when this was opened up it was four weeks ago that we first started getting our vaccine and giving our first doses, so now we've hit those second doses,” he said. “So a lot of our appointments are tied up with giving those second doses to people, and that’s why we don't have a lot of first dose appointments open, even though we have a lot of vaccine. We just didn't have enough time in the day and enough vaccinators to get shots and arms.”

Beyer said his pharmacy is working hard to provide as many vaccinations as possible.

“Every day we're doing vaccinations in the pharmacy,” he said. “Monday through Friday we've been doing some and we're going to be doing some on Saturdays. They need to go to our website where they can sign up and get an appointment and then that allows them to book their second appointment. Right now we're doing Moderna, so four weeks later they get their second appointment.  Also, this week we're into our second doses for the Missoula County Public Schools and in the smaller schools in the community.”

Beyer wanted to particularly thank NBC Montana's Maritsa Georgiou for her help in recruiting volunteers to help with vaccinations.

Click the link to Granite Pharmacy’s website or call 926-2640 for a vaccination appointment.

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