Recently, KGVO spoke to Jim Murphy with Montana DPHHS about the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, in which some selected local pharmacies will eventually be providing COVID 19 vaccinations.

Nick Holloway is the Public Information Officer for the department of Emergency Services COVID 19 vaccination team, and provided more information about the federal program.

“There are a couple different pipelines of vaccines in the county,” said Holloway. “There's the federal pipeline, which you are referring to (the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program),” he said. “And then there's also the state pipeline which goes through DPHHS. The Federal pipeline vaccines come straight to the pharmaceutical providers, the vaccinators at the pharmacies, and we don't really have control over what allocations they are getting from the federal sources.”

Holloway describes the cooperation between county and federal programs.

“We do a system with coordination and we can help them with storage, particularly for Pfizer which needs ultra cold storage,” he said. “We assist them with information, they put their information, their registration information up on our website, COVID-19 dot and we also can provide logistical help for them.”

Holloway said again that the supply of vaccine overall is still very slowly making its way into Montana.

“The vaccine is largely not here yet,” he said. “As it comes into Missoula County, whether it's through the state pipeline or the federal pipeline, it'll be listed on our website and all the vaccination options will be listed there as well. So, if you want to get vaccinated through a pharmacy that is getting supplied from the federal pipeline, you should be able to go to our website and see how to schedule a vaccination there.”

Holloway said the online and phone in registration for mass vaccination clinics is still much like the wild west, with first come, first served results.

“We open up scheduling for those mass vaccination clinics and we want to be equitable,” he said. “So we're opening it up to everybody which creates this sort of race, whether it's an online signup process or whether folks need a little extra help and call our 258-INFO (4636). It's still a bunch of people calling in at the same time. So that's the most difficult part, but we're doing our best to ease that process and learn from previous encounters with folks and make things better all the time.”

Holloway said the system is still vaccinating those in Phase 1 B.


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