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COVID-19 Vaccination Plan Information for Montana

Page last updated 1/11/2021

Frequently Asked Questions

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Most Asked Questions Related to COVID Vaccine Allocation

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Why did the State of Montana update its recommendations?

Governor Gianforte is committed to protecting those most vulnerable to complications from COVID-19.


In Phase 1B+, COVID-19 vaccines will be available to Montanans 60 years of age and older and Montanans 16 to 59 years of age with additional qualifying medical conditions like asthma, cystic fibrosis, and liver disease. The updated vaccination allocation recommendations are here.

Data collected by DPHHS shows that Montanans 60 years of age and older account for 89 percent of deaths and 72 percent of hospitalizations from COVID-19. Phase 1B, which Montana entered into on January 19, made vaccines available to populations that accounted for approximately 75 percent of deaths and 50 percent of hospitalizations from COVID-19.

Governor Gianforte announced Phase 1B+ after the DPHHS polled local jurisdictions on their Phase 1B progress. The majority of jurisdictions estimates its 1B completion was greater than 50 percent, with 14 jurisdictions estimating a Phase 1B completion rate greater than 75 percent.
 

 

When can I get vaccinated?

Montana has made great progress to protect those most vulnerable through Phases 1A and 1B. On March 8, Montana will add Phase 1B+ to include those 60 and older, plus more qualifying medical conditions for individuals aged 16-59.  Individuals are encouraged to monitor messaging from local public health authorities and local medical providers regarding supply in their area. Click here for local contact information about vaccine availability and how to schedule an appointment.

How do I know if I am high risk due to an underlying medical condition?

Please refer to the guidance available at dphhs.mt.gov for information on the target populations and medical conditions related to increased risk from COVID-19.

Where can I get vaccinated?

Montana has made great progress to protect those most vulnerable through Phases 1A and 1B. On March 8, Montana will add Phase 1B+ to include those 60 and older, plus more qualifying medical conditions for individuals aged 16-59.  Individuals are encouraged to monitor messaging from local public health authorities and local medical providers regarding supply in their area. Click here for local contact information about vaccine availability and how to schedule an appointment.
 

 

Which vaccine will I receive?

If you are 16-18 years old, you will receive the Pfizer vaccine as it is the only vaccine approved for persons under 18 at this time. If you are 18 years old and over, the vaccine you receive will depend on the allocation on hand of the provider who is responsible for your vaccine administration. There are currently three vaccines available, including Pfizer, Moderna and most recently the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
 

How far along is the state in the vaccination process?

As of March 2, 2021 over 260,000 total doses have been administered and over 90,000 Montanans are fully immunized. Track Montana’s progress on the state’s vaccine dashboard. On March 8, Montana will move into Phase 1B+ where COVID-19 vaccines will be available to Montanans 60 years of age and older and Montanans 16 to 59 years of age with additional qualifying medical conditions like asthma, cystic fibrosis, and liver disease.

Data collected by the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) showed that Montanans 60 years of age and older account for 89 percent of deaths and 72 percent of hospitalizations from COVID-19. Phase 1B, which Montana entered into on January 19, made vaccines available to populations that accounted for approximately 75 percent of deaths and 50 percent of hospitalizations from COVID-19.

Governor Gianforte announced Phase 1B+ after the DPHHS polled local jurisdictions on their Phase 1B progress. The majority of jurisdictions estimates its 1B completion was greater than 50 percent, with 14 jurisdictions estimating a Phase 1B completion rate greater than 75 percent.

Who will let me know when I need my second dose?

When you receive your first dose, you will be given a vaccination card showing the type of vaccine you received and the date of your second scheduled dose. You may also receive an electronic notification from the facility’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) when the second dose is available.

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COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

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How has Montana prepared to distribute the vaccine?

All states were required to create a COVID-19 vaccination plan.

The plan outlines three vaccination distribution phases, key critical populations to be offered the vaccine first, and how the agency is working with key partners across the state to implement Montana’s plan. This plan is subject to change based on the ACIP and CDC’s guidance about priority populations. 

 DPHHS announced a COVID-19 Vaccination Plan Coordination Team on November 23. The team is comprised of stakeholders from various sectors across the state, many of who are already established COVID-19 crisis response partners. The team’s first meeting was held on November 24, 2020. 

DPHHS hosted a virtual Tribal Consultation on October 8, and included tribal governments, urban Indian health centers, and Indian Health Service.

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Vaccine Distribution Partners and Allocation Numbers

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How will the COVID-19 vaccine be distributed in Montana, and who will distribute it?

Vaccines will be allocated to Montana several ways: through a state allocation managed by DPHHS, through an allocation specifically to long term care facilities, and to federal entities such as Indian Health Services and the Veteran’s Health Administration. Montana tribes were given the opportunity to elect whether to receive their vaccine allocation from state or federal sources.  

Here’s a breakdown of how vaccine will be allocated in Montana.

State allocation managed by DPHHS

DPHHS will work with federal partners to distribute state vaccine allocations directly to enrolled providers across the state.

Long Term Care Facilities (LTCF) 

The federal government is contracting with CVS, Walgreens and Big Sky Managed Care Pharmacy to offer on-site COVID-19 vaccination services for nursing homes and assisted living facilities residents.

Tribal jurisdiction allocation

All Tribal entities were given the opportunity to either receive their allocation through federal or state channels. This includes tribal governments, Urban Indian Health Centers and Indian Health Service sites.

In Montana, 5 of 8 tribal governments, all five Urban Indian Health Centers and all the IHS sites chose to get their allocation from the IHS. IHS has been recognized as their own jurisdiction. Here is the IHS vaccination plan [ihs.gov]

The IHS allocation will be outside of the state allocation that DPHHS will receive. 

Confederated Salish and Kootenai, Blackfeet and Little Shell Tribes are expected to receive their allocation through the state allocation. 
 

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Vaccine Distribution to Critical Population by Phases

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Who will receive the vaccine first?

Since the vaccine is available on a limited basis, the vaccine is being distributed in phases.

The COVID-19 vaccine distribution recommendations were updated on March 2, 2021.

Montana is making progress to protect those most vulnerable through Phases 1A and 1B. Vaccine supplies are increasing, and Phase 1B+ will launch on March 8 to include those 60 and older, plus more qualifying medical conditions for individuals aged 16-59. 
Phase 1C includes frontline essential workers not already included in Phase 1B or Phase 1B+, and individuals living in congregate care and correctional facilities not already included in Phase 1B or 1B+.
Phase 2 is the final phase for all remaining Montanans aged 16 or older not already included in Phase 1A, 1B, 1B+ or 1C.
 

 

When will the vaccine be available broadly for all Montanans?

The last phase is Phase 2, and includes Montanans aged 16 and older.

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Vaccine Safety

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Are the vaccines safe?

The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines are as safe as possible. Safety is a top priority. The clinical trials for COVID-19 have been conducted according to the rigorous standards set forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If FDA determines the vaccine meets its safety standards, it can make it available for use in the U.S. by approval or Emergency Use Authorization (EAU). The FDA has made both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available through EAU.

More information about vaccine safety. 

How will DPHHS monitor for safety?

The current vaccine safety system has the capacity to effectively monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines both under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and post-licensure.

CDC, along with FDA and other federal partners, will use established safety systems to conduct heightened safety monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines. 

DPHHS has a system in place to receive reports of any vaccine safety issues for all vaccines. The same system will be used to monitor for any COVID-19 vaccine safety. The DPHHS Immunization Program will be closely monitoring and responding to any safety issues identified. 

What vaccines are available and when?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine have been approved for Emergency Use Authorization. Montana received its first shipment of Pfizer vaccine the week of December 14. The state will now start receiving ongoing shipments of both vaccines as part of the Phase 1a vaccine allocation plan that includes health care workers and staff and residents of long term care facilities. Phase 1a has now been expanded to include additional healthcare workers with direct patient contact, such as dentists, orthodontists, physical therapists, optometrists, home health workers and others that fit the criteria. 


 

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Vaccine Administration and Storage

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Where will the vaccine be available in Montana?

To date, DPHHS has enrolled about 200 providers who will be trained on how to store, handle and administer the vaccine. As more vaccine becomes available, these providers will be receiving vaccine in the coming weeks and months.

Are the vaccines administered in two doses?

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine must be administered in two doses. The Pfizer vaccine must be spaced 21 days apart, and Moderna 28 days apart. Obtaining two doses is essential for the effectiveness of the vaccine and vaccine recipients will need to receive the same vaccine type as their first dose. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is a single-dose vaccine.