BILLINGS — Fans who walked into Dehler Park Saturday to see the Billings Mustangs take on the Great Falls Voyagers could receive a free first-dose COVID-19 vaccination, during another outreach clinic hosted by RiverStone Health.
“We’re very excited. In the first 10 minutes, we’ve already given 10 vaccines," said Claire Oakley, director of health promotion for RiverStone.
Staff had around 100 doses on hand from Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer ready to give out to people ages 12 and older near the clinic's van parked near the ball park front gate. The end of May signaled the end of the centralized Yellowstone County vaccination site, with RiverStone staff now shifting their efforts to smaller outreach clinics scheduled by community businesses or other organizations.
The vaccine recipients also received a voucher for a free beer or soda at the Dehler Park concession stands.
Oakley said most people who wanted the vaccine already got it. Now public health staff have to work harder to catch other people who wouldn't necessarily take the time out of their day to schedule an appointment, but would still get a vaccine if the opportunity presented itself.
"Our whole goal is to make it convenient, to decrease any friction in their life. Whether it's work, child care, whatnot. We want to make it easy for people to get (a vaccine)," Oakley said.
Zachary Girard, 26, a grad student at MSUB got his first COVID-19 vaccine dose before watching the ball game. He didn't know the clinic was happening until his parents told him the day of, but said he was happy to get the shot.
“I just feel it’s important definitely to get the vaccination and try to help make a difference wherever I can," Girard said.
The vaccine clinic was busy for the hour and a half it was open, with staff vaccinating people from a wide variety of age groups. Billings resident and Big Sky Little League team member Eli Olson, 12, received a COVID-19 shot at the mustangs game. He said the experience was a breeze.
"It doesn't actually hurt as bad. I was a little nervous at the start, but you can't really feel it if you look away," Olson said.
Olson ssaid he was expecting to get the COVID-19 shot at the ballpark, and was excited to receive it because of a vacation planned to Mexico this summer and that he won't have to wear a mask as often.
Keep an eye on RiverStone Health's web site to find future COVID-19 outreach vaccination clinics. Visit the site by clicking here. For more information on how to host a vaccine clinic, contact RiverStone at 406-651-6410 or email CovidOutreach@riverstonehealth.org.
Oakley said there are plans to bring vaccination clinics to the Reading Rocks program hosted at various Billings schools June 14 - July 22nd
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