Butte COVID-19 vaccination plan will require much preparation and manpower

Posted at 10:43 AM, Dec 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-31 12:43:11-05

BUTTE — Butte’s health department has a rough plan for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to the community, but they still don’t know when people will be able to make an appointment to get one.

“It’s a substantial logistical effort with a light at the end of it,” said Butte’s Health Department Director Karen Sullivan.

Butte is waiting to see how many doses of the new vaccine it’s going to get before it moves into its next phase of vaccinations set to begin in mid-January.

“Well, we can tell people who will be in those groups, the infrastructure on how we’re going to do that needs to be talked about and implemented,” said Sullivan.

Next month, first responders, educators, and people 75 and older are first in line. This will include public works and grocery workers.

By February, those 16 to 64 years old with high-risk medical conditions will be vaccinated and other essential workers, and by March, the general population will get their turn.

Having the staff do administer the shots will be a challenge.

“How are we going to work together to get enough nurses and pharmacists lined up to do the real work,” said Sullivan.

The current vaccine comes in a vile that holds 10 doses and it has to be kept frozen, and when they’re ready to use it they have to give it time to unthaw, and then they have a short window of time to use all the doses in each vile.

“And once you open the vile, you have to use the 10 shots within six hours, otherwise you can’t use it after that, so there’s a lot of planning going into: You open a vile you want 10 arms available,” said Sullivan.