HAMILTON — Thousands are signed up to receive their COVID-19 shots in Ravalli County, and more expected as the vaccine supply catches up with demand.
It's been just over a week since Ravalli County's COVID-19 vaccine registry went online, with nearly 3,000 people signing up right away. The registry isn't for specific appointments, but to give the county a list of people hoping to get their shots from the health department.
“Just because you registered with us doesn't mean that you have to stay with us if you have an opportunity to vaccinate somewhere else. We understand that people are going to take those opportunities and then it's not a guarantee that you'll get scheduled right away," Ravalli County Health Department Director Tiffany Webber explained. "For us, it's a resource pool so that when we do start to schedule appointments, we have a random pool to draw from.”
One rumor going around the Bitterroot has been that residents will be "required" to be vaccinated but Webber says that's simply not the case. For one, there's not enough vaccine available, and the county realizes some people may choose to not get a shot for a variety of reasons.
“We have one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state here in Ravalli County and while we have tried to educate the public to improve those, I also respect the, you know, the community's right to choose for themselves," Webber said.
The County is hoping that community groups and churches will do their part to help the elderly and those without Internet access sign up to get their COVID-19 vaccine. The County also plans to send out additional information.
"And the postcards will have information on it about, you know, whether you want more information about [the] vaccine or whether you intend to register to vaccinate somewhere," Webber said.
"And it'll have a little message on it that'll be about, if you're a person who is savvy and can get online to do these things please help your neighbor who can't you know. And if you're a person who gets it and you don't have Internet access or you don't know how, you can just sign that you're interested and mail it back," Webber added.
The Ravalli County Health Department website has information on the vaccination registry, and also a list of local pharmacies and other locations that will also be providing shots once the vaccine is more widely available.