FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: February 3, 2021
Contact: Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936, (406) 461-3757, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391, (406) 461-8367, email@example.com
DPHHS Continues Weekly Vaccine Distribution to Local Jurisdictions
On February 2, 2021, the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) was notified the state will receive 16,425 first doses and 13,525 second doses for those completing the vaccine series.
This allocation will be distributed to local jurisdictions the week of February 8. DPHHS continues to be notified week-to-week regarding vaccine allocation. However, the agency has been assured the amounts will not be less than current levels.
Governor Greg Gianforte also announced on February 3 a reallocation of 19,500 unused Pfizer doses that were originally provided to CVS and Walgreens under contract by the federal government to vaccinate residents and staff in long-term care and assisted living facilities. These doses will be distributed to hospitals around the state with ultracold storage capability, in coordination with local public health agencies. This allocation will also free up more Moderna doses to be allocated to rural areas of the state.
“The good news is that vaccines are being administered on a weekly basis to Montanans most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19,” said DPHHS Director Adam Meier. “While the current supply the state receives each week from the federal government isn’t keeping up with the demand in Montana, the state is one of the best in the nation in administering the vaccine to its citizens.”
Meier said while the federal government’s vaccine shipments to the state remain low, DPHHS continues its work to equitably allocate doses across Montana. Factors that impact vaccine allocation to counties include the local jurisdiction’s estimated population of those eligible to receive the vaccine in each phase, previous allocations to each specific provider, and the amount of vaccine that provider has left to administer.
DPHHS then uses this information to determine specific allocations to local jurisdictions before they are notified every Friday. The local jurisdictions then begin to make their vaccine allocation plans for the following week.
Pharmacy Chains Will Distribute Vaccines
Also, starting next week, DPHHS has been notified the federal government is partnering with 21 national pharmacy chains and independent pharmacy networks to help administer COVID-19 vaccine in communities across the United States as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination.
This program represents the federal strategy to expand access to vaccines. The initial phased implementation of the program will begin next week, with select retail pharmacies administering COVID-19 vaccine across the country as early as Thursday, February 11. It is not known at this time which specific Montana pharmacies will receive doses through this program. Once that information is known, DPHHS will share it.
The pharmacy program will be implemented incrementally, based on the available supply of COVID-19 vaccines.
Governor Gianforte Urges President to Send More Vaccines to Montana
Governor Gianforte continues to urge President Biden and our federal partners to ramp up vaccine production and send more vaccines to Montana to match the state’s efficiencies surrounding vaccine distribution and administration.
Montana is in Phase 1B. In Phase 1B, COVID-19 vaccines are available to Montanans 70 years of age and older, 16 to 69 years of age with a high-risk medical condition, and Native Americans and other persons of color who may be at elevated risk for COVID-19 complications.
As of February 3, 2021, a total of 116,119 Montanans has received the COVID-19 vaccine first dose and 30,137 people are fully immunized. These numbers are updated daily on the new vaccine dashboard. The new dashboard includes information on total vaccine doses administered, Montanans fully immunized, and doses administered per 1,000 eligible people across Montana counties.
DPHHS has New Vaccine Map and Website
DPHHS has launched a new COVID-19 vaccine website landing page, including a map with local information and resources. Local jurisdictions continue to hold vaccine clinics for those eligible in Phase 1B and are providing regular updates online about vaccine availability at the local level. This information changes constantly so Montanans are encouraged to check the map frequently.
The DPHHS map links to online and social media sites where jurisdictions share information regularly on vaccine availability and scheduling. The map also includes the best local phone number to call, but Montanans are urged to utilize the online information first.
Health officials also state that during the vaccination process, it’s important to remain vigilant to limit the spread of COVID-19. Montanans need to continue to practice basic public health prevention methods to keep case numbers low while the vaccine rollout continues: wear a mask to protect yourself and others, practice social distancing by staying six feet apart, stay home if you are sick, cover your cough, wash your hands often, and avoid large crowds.