MISSOULA — Missoula County recorded five COVID-19 related deaths Friday, among the highest deaths recorded in a single day.
Since the start of October, Missoula County has lost 17 residents to the virus while in September, 19 deaths were reported.
Missoula health officials continue to advocate for the COVID-19 vaccine saying the "staggeringly low" vaccination rates in rural areas have helped compound the crisis. Meanwhile, The Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) is gearing up for the inevitable "holiday surge" of cases with Thanksgiving just six weeks away.
Let’s say you want to be fully immunized by Thanksgiving, that way you can get together with the whole family -- grandparents and babies -- without worrying about spreading COVID-19.
You would need to receive your first dose of the Pfizer vaccine by Oct. 21 and that would give you enough time to receive your second Pfizer shot three weeks later, and still have the two-week period following your second shot to become fully immunized.
MTN News spoke with health department officials on Friday about the vaccine situation as it plays out in Missoula.
“We do continue to have about 200 to 300 people a week coming in to get their first dose of vaccine, which is great. We are definitely trying to get the word out that, you know, it's not too late to get vaccinated,” Missoula County COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr noted.
The COVID-19 vaccine has now been available for 10 months and 57% of the US population has been fully vaccinated while 66% of Missoula County’s population has been fully vaccinated. But as we’ve heard time and time again, health officials have one goal in mind, and that’s herd immunity.
“If we can hit that 75% of our total population, then that is the number that we believe is going to create some herd immunity, so it could really stop the spread of COVID in our community,” Farr said.
Farr says we’ll merely inch towards herd immunity at this rate, but with vaccine availability for 5 to 11-year-olds in sight, she is feeling hopeful.
“I believe that we're expecting to hear by the end of the month that there's supposed to be some movement on whether those five to 11-year-olds are going to be able to get vaccinated, what the dose is going to be and you know all of that stuff,” Farr told MTN News.
Currently, the MCCHD is only offering appointment-based booster shots if people have received Pfizer, and it’s been six months since their last shot.
People also have to meet certain qualifications to get their booster. For example, people have to be at least 65 years old, have an underlying health condition, or have an occupation with high exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
More information can be found by clicking here or by calling (406) 258-INFO.
"If you just haven't done it yet, but you're you know that you're going to be seeing family or friends or having large gatherings around the holidays that are coming up, please pop into our clinic at Southgate mall and get vaccinated, we can make it really fast and easy for you,” Farr concluded.