HAMILTON — A Ravalli County pharmacy says demand is strong for people to get their COVID-19 "booster" shots.
But a lot of people are still showing up for their initial vaccinations. Ravi Fry was among dozens driving into Hamilton this week to get a COVID-19 booster shot, following up on his initial vaccination back in January.
"It's kind of a no-brainer," Fry said while waiting for his shot. "I mean, people used to get polio and we got a vaccine for polio. We don't get polio anymore. So I'll get whatever vaccines available."
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He's not alone. Bitterroot Drug has been seeing as many as 100 patients a day. Yet even with all that interest, supply isn't a problem.
"I don't think there's any availability issues with the booster whether you want Pfizer or Johnson and Johnson or Moderna," Bitterroot Drug co-owner Pete Seifert said. "We're seeing we have a steady supply and I just would recommend people wait till six months after their last dose. And if they meet the criteria — which most people meet it — for pretty much any health condition or working with the public. they're going to move the criteria for boosters. So most people are eligible right now."
Seifert explained now the "brand" of the COVID-19 vaccine isn't as critical.
"We're discussing that with the patient. You know, a lot of times we're matching the same vaccine they had previously. Some people want to get something different. That's fine as well. There's really not a right or wrong answer, but for the most part, we're matching what they've had previously." - Bitterroot Drug co-owner Pete Seifert
Siefert didn't have the exact number, but he said since the vaccine first became available earlier this year, he believes Bitterroot Drug has given about 7,000 vaccinations, both for the initial shots and for the COVID-19 booster.
"We've got a high level of interest in booster shots, as well as just first-time vaccines. A lot of people that have been hesitant to get vaccinated are finding that comfort level. And so on top of the booster vaccines, we have a large number of just first-time patients that are getting vaccinated."
That's been challenging for Bitterroot Drug, which was among the first offering the first vaccines last winter. The pharmacy's staff has remained busy keeping up with all the vaccinations, but also their initial work, doing their best to organize with appointments.
But for Seifert and his team, it's the role they'll continue to fill as long as needed.