Questions about Montana's COVID vaccine plan

Moderna Vaccine
Posted at 6:39 PM, Jan 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-11 14:36:01-05

GREAT FALLS — If you have sent us a question regarding when you might be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Montana recently, we’re not ignoring them. We’ve seen them, but for now we’re holding off on answering some of those types of questions because of the changes that the state’s vaccination plan has undergone.

As we reported a few days ago, as the state’s vaccination plan and timeline changes, so do the phases of vaccine distribution. If President-Elect Biden does release all available doses of the vaccine once he takes office, as he has previously stated is his plan, the increased vaccine availability could cause Montana and other states to reevaluate their phases and timelines again.

If you are wondering when you may be able to receive the vaccine, please visit the Montana DPHHS website, as that is the most up-to-date information available on the current phases and timeline of vaccine distribution. We will report on any changes that Montana officials make to the timeline, vaccine distribution phases, or the number of doses that are currently available or on their way to the Treasure State.

We received a question from Billings resident Wendy Johnson regarding her frustrations about the changes to the state’s plan. As noted in the article referenced above, one thing that has not stayed consistent across the state’s Vaccination Plan’s changes is the cut-off ages for the different phases.

Wendy estimated that she was not the only one experiencing these frustrations, and noted that she had reached out to the state, but had not yet received a response. After we spoke with her, the state responded to her letter, and wrote, in part:

“Phase 1a is still in process, and timelines to begin 1b will vary by jurisdiction. In turn, the timeline to complete 1b wil be dependent on supply and demand. In terms of supply, there’s currently two vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer) that have received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). If additional vaccines receive EUA, then that will increase supply and that will impact the timeline. We’ve been pleased with the demand for the vaccine thus far in MT – the vaccine we’ve received is being administered quickly. Given these variables, it’s difficult to provide an accurate timeline for completing 1b until we’re a bit further along. But, it’s certainly our goal is to move through 1b as quickly as possible in weeks, not months to protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19 complications.”

The email from the State’s Emergency Coordination Joint Information Center Director also cites recent guidance from the CDC, as we have previously cited as well, about what state and federal organization should do as long as doses of the vaccines remain limited.

According to the CDC, as of January 8, 6.6 million people in the U.S. have received their first dose of the vaccine, and just over 22 million doses have been distributed.