HELENA — Last week Lewis and Clark Public Health (LCPH) expanded vaccination efforts to include everyone over the age of 70, American Indians and people of color and those over the age of 16 with a medical condition that makes the more at risk for a severe complication from COVID. The County estimates their over half of the way through getting first doses into the arms of qualifying individuals for Phase 1B.
“We’re right around 60 percent of those that are eligible for Phase 1B,” said LCPH Disease Control and Prevention Division Administrator Eric Merchant. “That number is through this week as we have another 900 doses planned for Tuesday and Wednesday this week at the fairgrounds.”
LCPH estimates around 13,000 individuals qualify to receive their COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1B.
Merchant ays when then move between vaccination phases and tiers is based on interpreting data. Those thresholds are partially based on doses administered and how fast vaccination spots fill up in the online registration.
“When we first opened Phase 1B tier 1 it was taking just moments or minutes to get through the registration process,” explained Merchant. “When we get to a place where it’s taking several days to get people registered for all the available spots for a given phase, then we know it’s time to move on.”
Merchant says they could be moving on from Phase 1B in two to three weeks, but that’s all depending on the number of doses they receive.
Supply continues to be the defining limiter on the speed of the COVID-19 vaccination roll out. However, the Johnson and Johnson one-shot vaccine is likely to be approved in the coming weeks which would greatly increase vaccine availability.
With the potential of three different vaccines, LCPH urges people not to wait or pass up on getting vaccinated.
“No matter what vaccine you have access to, get it because that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” said Merchant.
More information about vaccination in Lewis and Clark County can be found here.