KALISPELL — What started the second week of January is now coming to a close as the final mass vaccination clinic at the Flathead County Fairgrounds is set for Tuesday.
“It’s best for us to vacate that space and just start working in our own facility,” Flathead County Health officer Joe Russell Tells MTN News.
After administering 1,000 doses of the vaccine a day during clinics in April, Russell said the demand has decreased dramatically to less than 50 new sign-ups a week.
“Yeah, April into May you know we were pushing quite a bit of vaccine, a slow day seemed like 600 doses,” said Russell.
Russell explained the health department will now transition into administering vaccine doses by appointment or walk-in visits at the county health department office, with the last mass vaccination clinic at the county fairgrounds taking place June 22.
“We really don’t need that facility at that level, we can operate up to 150 doses a day on Tuesdays in the health department,” Russell tells MTN News.
He said the county will continue to work throughout the summer with local businesses to promote pop-up vaccine clinics.
Russell noted more than 70 community members and tourists received doses of the vaccine during pop-up clinics at different Flathead breweries the past two weeks.
“Two young ladies that were from Mexico City that were up here for a month, and they saw that we were having a clinic and came by and got vaccinated, they wouldn’t have been vaccinated if we didn’t have that, so you know it just worked out perfect for them,” said Russell.
He said he’s concerned about COVID variants coming into Flathead County and the number of active cases still present.
"You know we’re not out of the woods and I would encourage anyone if you can get vaccinated you should, if you waited to see if the vaccines were safe, I think they’ve been proven safe,” said Russell.
Russell hopes Flathead County can reach 50% of the eligible population fully vaccinated by next fall.
The Montana COVID-19 tracking website shows 37% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated to date. That's is the lowest vaccination rate among Montana's most populous counties. A total of 67,339 vaccines have been administered and 32,866 Flathead County residents are fully vaccinated.
There have been a total of 12,379 COVID-19 cases confirmed in Flathead County including 12,219 recoveries and 101 deaths. There are currently 59 active cases in the county.