HAMILTON — Efforts to vaccinate Ravalli County residents against the coronavirus will take a big leap forward Saturday as nearly 1,000 people will receive their vaccine.
The unexpected bonus in vaccinations from a supply of remaining shots that had originally been set aside to protect workers and residents in long-term health facilities. But when those objectives were met, the 975 became available.
The doses -- which will be given in a one-day clinic through Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital -- are over and above the vaccinations which have been slowly rolling out through the hospital, and Ravalli County Public Health over the past few weeks.
“This is not a typical sort of shipment for us, right? We've normally been getting anywhere from 200 to 400 doses a week of the Moderna vaccine, so this is a special allotment,” commented hospital marketing director Christina Voyles.
“Essentially that was given to us and we have teamed with Public Health and multiple other entities here in Ravalli County to come together and hold sort of this mass community clinic,” Voyles added.
The unused Pfizer vaccine was recently released by pharmacies for long-term health care centers through the state.
Those will be given to Phase 1B patients who are already on waiting lists from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Bitterroot Physicians Clinic in Hamilton by appointment only.
“We’re elated to be able to do so many at one point in time. In fact, our CEO said a while ago that if we could get thousands of doses in and sort of do a blitzkrieg of vaccination over weekend, we'd love to do that and get everybody vaccinated ASAP,” Voyles said. “Unfortunately, the supply just isn't there at the moment.”
Following this weekend's clinic, the hospital says it will continue to work with Ravalli County and other agencies to make sure that vaccine is distributed as evenly as possible.”
“We're going to continue with the list that we have. We have a dedicated phone line that's posted on our website under our COVID Vaccine Information banner on the home page there,” Voyles explained.
“And then I know Ravalli County also has a web page that's dedicated to showing you where you can go to get the vaccine,” Voyles continued. “So, I think all entities will continue with the list and just to make their way through to be as equitable as possible.”
While it will take months to vaccinate a majority of Bitterroot residents, giving shots to nearly 1,000 people is a big help in turning the tide of community spread of the coronavirus.