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COVID-19 Vaccination Plan Information for Montana

Page last updated 1/15/21

Summary
COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

Status: As of January 15, 2021, there's been 51,000 total doses (first and second doses combined) administered to Montana health care personnel since it first became available the week of December 14. This includes frontline healthcare workers all across Montana.

Montana continues to receive vaccine doses each week, with 6,400 Moderna doses this week and about 13,000 more doses next week. The state will also be receiving 20,000 second doses. Currently, Montana has received a total of 70,000 doses.

In addition, vaccine distribution to long term care facilities (including nursing homes and assisted living facilities) is ongoing. All staff and residents at these nearly 300 facilities are expected to receive their first dose by the end of the month.

The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is working with local county and Tribal health departments, pharmacies, hospitals, and community health centers across Montana to distribute the vaccine.  

The COVID-19 vaccine distribution recommendations were updated on January 5, 2021. The current recommendations are here.

Vaccine distribution is occurring in phases beginning with Phase 1a that targets health care workers and staff and residents of long term care facilities. Phase 1a also includes healthcare workers with direct patient contact, such as dentists, orthodontists, physical therapists, optometrists, home health workers and others that fit the criteria.

Phase 1b includes those age 70 years and older, persons aged 16-69 with high risk medical conditions and American Indians and other people of color who may be at elevated risk for COVID-19 complications. As local jurisdictions work to complete Phase 1a, several have indicated they are ready to move to Phase 1b the week of Jan. 18.

Phase 1c includes frontline essential workers, persons aged 60 years and older, individuals living in congregate care and correctional facilities, persons aged 16-59 with medical conditions not included in Phase 1b that may have elevated risk of COVID-19 complications.

Phase 2 is the final phase for all remaining Montanans aged 16 or older.

See our FAQs for more information.

Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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?

After review of recent COVID-19 activity, hospitalizations and deaths and vaccination resources, the state of Montana will be prioritizing vaccine delivery to those most at risk of severe complications related to COVID-19.

The recommendations are focused on protecting the most vulnerable who are most at risk of severe complications from COVID (70+, 16-69 with severe underlying medical conditions, and Native Americans and other people of color). Once the most vulnerable have an opportunity to be vaccinated, we will move to 1c.
 

When can I get vaccinated?

Based on vaccine supplies, it is anticipated that expansion of vaccination to individuals aged 70 and over or who are at high-risk (Phase 1B) will begin the week of January 18. This approximate timeline is subject to change, as doses will be extremely limited. Individuals will need to monitor messaging from local public health authorities and local medical providers regarding supply in their area.

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?

Vaccination sites vary by county or jurisdiction. Enrolled vaccine providers include local health departments, hospitals, community health centers, IHS and tribal health, and pharmacies. We recommend monitoring messaging from local public health authorities and local medical providers regarding supply in your area. As vaccine becomes available outside of targeted medical providers currently being vaccinated, information on vaccine availability will be available at the dphhs.mt.gov website as well as most local health department web sites. 

For local contact information, Montanans are encouraged to contact their local health jurisdictions

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.

How far along is the state in the vaccination process?

While the state remains in vaccination Phase 1A, which includes patient-facing healthcare providers along with staff and residents of long-term care facilities, some communities may be ready to initiate vaccination Phase 1b

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 will be distributed in phases.

Phase 1a vaccine distribution includes health care workers and staff and residents of long term care facilities and 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.  

Phase 1b includes those age 70 years and older, persons aged 16-69 with high risk medical conditions and American Indians and other people of color who may be at elevated risk for COVID-19 complications.

Phase 1c includes frontline essential workers, persons aged 60 years and older, individuals living in congregate care and correctional facilities, persons aged 16-59 with medical conditions not included in Phase 1b that may have elevated risk of COVID-19 complications.

Phase 2 is the final phase for all remaining Montanans aged 16 or older.

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?

Yes. 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. DPHHS has a reminder/recall module available for all participating facilities.