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Cancellations, no-shows can lead to wasted COVID-19 vaccine doses

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Posted at 3:31 PM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 17:42:53-04

BOZEMAN — It was a challenge at one point to get an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine, but now you can literally walk into a clinic and get your shot on the spot.

“We’re trying to get as many COVID vaccines into our community as we can, and we’re starting to see the demand taper off a little bit,” explained Kevin Larsen, the operations manager with Gallatin County Emergency Management.

There were 600 doses prepared for a recent clinic at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds and based on previous patterns, about 20 of those doses will have to be thrown away from no-shows and cancellations.

“The appointments have gone from really hard to get to a little bit easier, and now we’re just really looking for people to come in and get these shots so that we’re not throwing them away,” he said.

The doses have to be prepared before clinics.

“We have to have a certain number of doses for the appointments, so we have those thawed out and prepared. It’s not just something you take out of the 'fridge. You actually have to prepare it, thaw it out, and have it ready,” Larsen said.

The health department has a team making calls daily to replace cancellations and no-shows, but it seems like the demand isn’t as strong anymore.

“We’ve hit the people that were demanding it that were really wanting to get the vaccine, and it was a lower portion than we were hoping as far as the total number of people in our county,” he explained.

Bozeman Health prefers appointments, but they’re also taking walk-ins as well.

“We’re accepting all individuals whether they’re patients at Bozeman Health or not at this time. No patient or no person in the community will be turned away,” explained Caryl Perdaems, the system director of primary care operations.

As for those who are still on the fence about getting vaccinated, "this is a new vaccine, and I understand it’s probably scary for most. But the methods of getting to where we are today are tested and true,” Perdaems said.

Neither the county nor the hospital has received any more Johnson and Johnson vaccines since the recommended pause ended.