MISSOULA — People in Missoula County have been asking how they can get vaccinated for the virus, after sharing concerns and frustrations about the process.
Some have written in to MTN News saying they have called and waited for hours, and still can't get an appointment.
We brought these concerns to the Vaccine Coordination Team, where officials say they are doing everything they can to distribute limited doses equitably.
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The availability of the COVID-19 vaccine is causing frustration for Missoula County residents in phase 1B.
So, who can get vaccinated? If you're 70 or older, American Indian or a person of color, or between 16-69 years old with certain health conditions, you qualify.
"A lot of people want to get vaccinated as quickly as possible, and it is a frustrating process,” observed Missoula County COVID-19 Vaccine Coordination Team Public Information Officer Nick Holloway.
Holloway noted that the demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is huge and the next upcoming mass distribution clinic is already full.
"We scheduled about 650 people in about four minutes. Then it was closed, that filled the online portion of scheduling,” Holloway said.
He noted that Missoula County's COVID-19 website is the best way to schedule an appointment, but if you don't have internet access, there is another option.
"We do have a call in number, 258-INFO. Option 3 will take you to understand your vaccine options. And we do ask that if people do have internet access, that you stick to the internet side of things,” Holloway said.
He says they have enough call takers, but it is busy, “yesterday we have over 2,800 calls between 1 and 2 p.m."
Missoula County has been getting about 1,500 doses of vaccine on a weekly basis and Holloway says that's the real hurdle to getting people appointments.
"We have a shortage of vaccine, and Montana is not being allocated a large amount of vaccine," Holloway explained. “So, when Montana gets the vaccine, then our DPHHS reallocates it to all of our counties, and right now demand far exceeds supply."
Besides the mass clinics, there are about 20 locations that are cleared to distribute the vaccine.
"Most of them don't have vaccine right now. They're private entities, they're going to set their own time and places for where they're going to do the vaccine,” Holloway told MTN News.
That information will all be available on the website or phone line.
The best advice Holloway has for those that haven't been able to snag a spot is to just keep calling. He also recommends against calling your health care provider directly.
Holloway says pharmacy vaccines could start to arrive in the next couple of weeks, but those will not be mass vaccination clinics.