MISSOULA — The Missoula City-County Health Department says they hope the new year will bring pandemic recovery, but a lot of factors will impact how soon we get to the other side.
Vaccine distribution is continuing in local hospitals and long term care facilities in phase 1A.
Incident Commander Cindy Farr said, because we are a regional medical hub, there are a lot of healthcare providers that need to be vaccinated before we can move to the next phase.
Officials don't know how long that will take, or when the vaccine will be available for the general public. Farr said, even when it becomes available, they'll need to get people on board to take it.
Looking ahead, Farr is optimistic, "Right now what we're actually going for is getting people vaccinated to reduce complications and hospitalizations, and severe illness."
"Eventually, what we would really like to see is getting enough people vaccinated to develop that herd immunity so that we can see a slow the spread of the virus," Farr added.
She said if the vaccine comes in quickly, is readily available, and people are willing to take it, we could reach herd immunity by the end of 2021.