MISSOULA — The Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) distributed its first Moderna's COVID-19 vaccinations to 20 front line healthcare workers.
The health department hopes to vaccinate 20 front line workers each business day amid more than 30 different health organizations over the next two weeks. MCCHD also plans to continue coordinating with local organizations and independent providers to offer both first and second doses.
Each patient received a five-page informational packet about the vaccine before their appointment which generally lasted 25 minutes and included an in-person discussion with a provider and a mandatory observation period.
Following their appointment, patients will still need to continue social distancing, wearing a mask, and following public health guidelines.
“It has been a struggle changing the flow of how we take care of patients and not being as hands-on as we would like to," said Sarah Slater, a family nurse practitioner at River City Whole Health, who received the vaccine on Tuesday at the MCCHD immunization clinic.
She described the relieving experience of receiving the first dose of the vaccine, "I feel like we are at the tipping point where things will finally start to get better faster.”
“It’s pretty awesome to start to see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Caitlin Sutton an EMT at the MCCHD testing center. "It is a step in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work to do."
Local hospitals are still working to complete the vaccination of all of their front line staff, as there's a lot of ground left to cover in this distribution phase of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Missoula County Public Health Officer Ellen Leahy noted that this is not the end, but the beginning of the end.
MCCHD urges residents to remain vigilant by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, and following public health guidance until further notice.