HELENA — Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte provided an update on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday.
Gov. Gianforte announced that beginning on March 8 Montana will move into Phase 1B+ of the COVID-19 vaccination plan. Vaccines will become available for Montanans who are 60 years of age and older as well as people between 16 and 59 years old who have underlying health conditions.
“With this expansion, we are prioritizing the population groups that account for nearly 90 percent of Montana’s total deaths and more than 70% of Montana’s hospitalizations during this pandemic. Through this thoughtful, data-driven, commonsense approach, we will continue to minimize hospitalizations and deaths from this virus,” Gov. Gianforte said.
“Montanans have been remarkably patient as we await more supply from the federal government. My priority remains ensuring that every Montanan who wants the vaccine, can get the vaccine. We won’t stop working until that’s accomplished," he continued.
Data collected by the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) showed that Montanans 60 years of age and older account for 89% of deaths and 72% of hospitalizations from COVID-19. Phase 1B, which Montana entered into on Jan. 19, made vaccines available to populations that accounted for approximately 75% of deaths and 50% of hospitalizations from COVID-19.
The governor added that it's still projected that Montana will move into Phase 1C of the vaccination plan by spring or early summer.
Gov. Gianforte added that the state is "seeing encouraging signs in our vaccine supply."
The state is expected to receive approximately 60,000 COVID-19 vaccines this week.
The governor announced on Monday that Montana will receive 8,700 doses of the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine and counties will begin distributing those doses the week of March 8.