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Butte health department downscaling influenza vaccination efforts this flu season

Posted at 3:11 PM, Sep 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-25 17:11:16-04

BUTTE — The Butte-Silver Bow Health Department will not be conducting widespread influenza vaccination clinics for the 2020-2021 flu season, according to Health Officer Karen Sullivan.

The decision to downscale the department’s clinics is due to lack of staff capacity to conduct the clinics, in the midst of the department’s management of the COVID-19 event.

“While getting a flu shot is very important, especially this season with the novel coronavirus in our midst, the Health Department’s priority is management of COVID-19,” Sullivan said.

Traditionally, the Health Department has annually conducted three to four large flu clinics at the department and administered flu vaccine to about 60 organizations, businesses, and schools in the county. The department has also offered flu vaccines to walk-in clients throughout the season, which runs annually from October through June.

The department is currently notifying organizations to make other flu vaccine arrangements.

This year, the department ordered a much smaller inventory of flu vaccine. The department will continue to accept flu vaccine clients by appointment.

The department also continues its work in administering a variety of non-flu vaccines, including travel vaccines. That work continues – appointments may be made at (406) 497-5020.

The department has received its usual inventory of vaccines for children and adults who are under-insured or uninsured. Under-insured and uninsured clients are encouraged to call the department to make an appointment for any vaccine, including the influenza vaccine.

Those who are unsure of whether they qualify for these programs are encouraged to call the same number to determine eligibility.

The Health Department will also receive a shipment of flu vaccine in November, for administration to high-risk populations, including homeless individuals.

Sullivan said Southwest Montana Community Health Center provides flu vaccinations and features a sliding-fee schedule for low-income individuals and families.

The CHC can be reached at (406) 723-4075. Various medical provider offices also offer the flu vaccine, as do various local pharmacies, oftentimes for free.

“We highly encourage people to get the flu shot, and appreciate the public’s understanding of our department’s inability this year to administer the vaccine as usual,” Sullivan said.