GREAT FALLS — The first round of 1,500 people who signed up last week to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Great Falls got their first shots on Monday.
One by one, seniors filed in to the Family Living Center at the Montana ExpoPark. The goal was to give about 500 people their first of two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine; the other 1,000 doses will be administered on Wednesday and Friday of this week.
The process starts by sitting at a table with a healthcare worker and answering some basic questions. Then it's on to another table and another healthcare worker who asks a few more questions before administering the vaccine.
After receiving the shot, each person waits 15 minutes in an observation area to make sure there are no immediate adverse reactions.
"I think it's the thing to do,” said 74-year-old Belt resident Larry Howes. He said he didn't feel the shot, but he did feel a bit of excitement. “(Getting the vaccine will) probably save a lot of lives,” said Howes.
"People have been showing up to their appointments. That's fantastic, that's very encouraging,” said Trisha Gardner , Cascade City County Health Director.
Gardner was pleased with how the process was going. "We've seen a couple people come through so thankful they have tears in their eyes,” said Gardner. "We’re trying to do our best to get it out as quickly as we get it and we're going to continue to do that."
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Another round of COVID vaccine sign-ups will be held on Thursday, January 28th, beginning at 9 a.m. The appointments will be for Monday, February 1, Wednesday, February 3, and Friday, February 5. There will be 1,000 slots available.
- Who: Montana’s 1B vaccination tier has been defined to include anyone who is age 70 or older or meets certain other health criteria. However, given that the number of Cascade County residents who fall into tier 1B currently exceeds vaccine supply, we are limiting vaccine administration to only those who are age 70 and older at this time.
- When: Registration will begin at 9 a.m. on Thursday, January 28. These will be for appointments on Monday, February 1; Wednesday, February 3; and Friday, February 5. Slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
- How: Appointments must be scheduled by clicking here: Benefis.org/COVIDvaccine. If you do not have access to a computer, please call 406-455-2500 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 28. You will be required to provide a valid email address to book your appointment, regardless of whether you schedule online or via phone.
- Where: Vaccinations will take place at Montana ExpoPark's Family Living Center (400 3rd Street NW). You must preschedule an appointment to receive the vaccine. If you do not have an appointment, you will be turned away.
You must present a valid form of identification at the scheduled time of your vaccine. If your identification indicates that you are not age 70 or older, you will be turned away even if you have an appointment.
At this time, the government is covering the cost of the vaccine so there is no cost to the patient/recipient. Signing up to receive the vaccine is voluntary - there is no government mandate or law that requires members of the public to receive the vaccine.