MISSOULA — Vaccine distribution in Flathead County is starting to pick up with health officials administering more than 2,600 doses to tier 1B individuals last week.
The Flathead County Health Department (FCCHD) in partnership with Kalispell Regional Healthcare are hosting vaccine clinics each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the Flathead County Fairgrounds in Kalispell.
Flathead County Health Officer Joe Russell says the county is also working with North Valley Hospital to host a clinic at Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish each Thursday.
Russell says the county is seeing a steady dose of vaccine allocation allowing them to administer an average of 1,500 to 2,000 doses a week. “With the fact that we know we’re getting what we are for vaccine, we’re able to schedule a little bit further out so we’re a lot further ahead."
Russell says if vaccine allocation continues on this steady pace, the county may be able to move into phase 1C administering vaccines to frontline essential workers as early as late April or early May.
“Let’s get this vulnerable population done. But we also want to keep moving through it so we can get our essential workers done,” Russell explained. "So, if nothing else, our school year starts next year with fully vaccinated adult staff in these school districts, it puts us in a way better place."
Since the Flathead Health Board is not enacting a county-wide mask mandate, Russell says he strongly encourages residents to wear masks in public settings when social distancing is not allowed.
He says masks are the first line of defense in keeping businesses and schools open in the coming months.
“If schools go back to where we were in March, April, May last year where we basically closed the doors and did distance learning. That’s not a healthy place to be and all of our boards and trustees have to realize no one wants to go back there,” Russell said.
Russell says individuals wanting the vaccine are asked to call the COVID-19 vaccine line and leave a voicemail with their name, date of birth, and phone number. Due to high volume, he says it could be several weeks before residents receive a scheduling call.
Individuals in Tier 1B wanting the vaccine are asked to call (406) 751-8119 or fill out a COVID-19 Vaccine Request Form on the health department’s website to be put on the list.