KALISPELL — The Flathead City-County Health Department (FCCHD) is planning to expand its COVID-19 vaccination clinic hours.
The announcement comes after Gov. Greg Gianforte stated during a March 16 news conference that all Montanans aged 16 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning on April 1.
FCCHD -- in partnership with Kalispell Regional Healthcare -- will hold appointment-only vaccine clinics on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 8:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. at the Flathead County Fairgrounds.
The clinics are expected to vaccinate approximately 1,000 people each day.
In addition, North Valley Hospital will host appointment-only clinics on Thursdays from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Grouse Mountain Conference Center in Whitefish.
FCCHD notes that once the expanded vaccination efforts begin, Flathead County will continue to prioritize those 60 and older and those with underlying health conditions.
“Our next focus will be vaccinating those who are at the highest risk of exposure to the virus, such as educators and food service workers,” said FCCHD Health Officer Joe Russell.
“Moving forward, we will work hard to efficiently vaccinate the Flathead County workforce, providing protection to a highly susceptible population in our community," Russell continued.
FCCHD is encouraging residents who are eligible to become vaccinated to add their name to the COVID-19 vaccination list by using the online vaccine request form.
County health officials note that because of the high demand it may take several weeks for individuals to receive a vaccine appointment scheduling call.
Flathead County is currently receiving allocations of all three vaccines authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration.
FCCHD notes in a news release that residents who select a specific vaccine manufacturer may experience extended wait times before the specified vaccine becomes available.
“The vaccine is a critical public health tool, and we are excited for the opportunity to vaccinate our community,” stated Russell. “With that being said, the vaccine administration process is a marathon, not a sprint and we ask the public for their continued patience over the next several months as we work to vaccinate all who are interested.”
Information about COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Flathead County can be found here.
The Montana COVID-19 tracking map shows that as of Tuesday, 29,574 Flathead County residents had received the COVID-19 vaccine and that 11,577 were fully immunized.
There have been 11,346 coronavirus cases confirmed in Flathead County including 11,197 recoveries and 82 COVID-19 related deaths.