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Flathead Co. Health Officer provides COVID-19 vaccination update

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Posted at 4:27 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-11 18:27:23-05

KALISPELL — It’s been close to a month since Flathead County received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for distribution at Kalispell Regional Healthcare.

MTN News sat down with Flathead County Health Officer Joe Russell on how the process has gone so far including what comes next in the county’s vaccine distribution plan.

“And we’re going to really ramp up our vaccine deliveries starting next week if we receive the vaccine,” Russell said.

He told MTN News that the county is expecting to receive close to 1,300 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on a weekly basis for distribution starting as early as next week.

Russell says those new shipments of the vaccine will be administered to individuals in Phase 1B of the state’s rollout plan, including individuals 70-years and older and those with underlying medical conditions.

“We’re presuming that we’re going to get a pretty sizeable amount and we’re not going to sit on vaccine, we’re going to get it where it needs to be,” Russell said.

Russell noted that the county’s distribution plan has run smoothly thus far, with 1,170 people having already received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, while close to 1,400 people have received their first dose of the Moderna Vaccine.

Russell says he’s not sure if future doses will be predominately Pfizer or Moderna.

“We may end up with some Pfizer and we may end up with some Moderna, only time [is] going to tell, I think from a scaling perspective it doesn’t matter to us, it all vaccinates the same,” Russell said. “It’s just a lot more front-end work that will have to have more assistance from Kalispell Regional Healthcare to pull off.”

Russell says Flathead County plans on following state and CDC recommendations strictly, administering two doses of the vaccine to people more susceptible to COVID-19.

“You know, when we get to the general population very healthy people maybe we can get away with just doing one dose and picking it up in another three months, but this very susceptible tier 1 – tier 1B, I think we’ve got to stay the label and get that second dose in when it’s prescribed,” Russell said.

Russell added that Flathead hospitals are finishing up vaccine distribution to area health care workers this week.