BILLINGS — All 450 Tuesday appointments at the Yellowstone County centralized community vaccination were booked as county residents convened at Cedar Hall on the MetraPark campus to get their free, first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
“It was quick, actually really painless, and I highly recommend coming out and working with all of these great folks who are trying to keep us safe and get everything going again," said Jennette Rasch, a Billings resident getting her vaccine.
The clinic will operate on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with the capacity to expand hours when more vaccine becomes available. There are 2,250 first doses available to be given at the Cedar Hall site this week. In a four-hour shift, 32 healthcare workers can vaccinate 450 people.
Since December 2020, Yellowstone County residents have been fighting to secure an appointment at one of three sites offered by Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Healthcare and RiverStone Health in Billings. Over the next few weeks, staff from all three healthcare facilities will transition their efforts to offer vaccine only at Cedar Hall.
The goal is that it will be easier for people to schedule a vaccine appointment. Rasch and her husband, Shawn, had previously tried to get an appointment at St. Vincent, but were unsuccessful.
"I did eventually find a list at St. V’s that I got on, but I haven’t heard from them. So when I heard this was happening, I started diving for information and got signed up as soon as I could," Jennette Rasch said.
Shawn said the process to get an appointment was easy.
“I filled out a form online. I got lots of email reminders in between the time I signed up online and now so that I knew when my appointment time was, I knew I was confirmed. I think if you can get vaccinated, you should get vaccinated. Let's keep our masks on and then get it so we can get life back to normal," Shawn said.
County residents with vaccine appointments are asked not to enter Cedar Hall until five minutes before their appointment. People are required to wear a mask while inside. After filling out some paperwork, people are ushered to get their shot. Then they walk to the observation chairs to wait for a period of 15 to 30 minutes in case of an adverse reaction to the vaccine.
“They have it very streamlined. You just come in and they’ve got lots of people directing traffic. If you don’t know where to go, someone will help you. As far as getting the vaccine, I’m happy to do it because it’s important as part of a community, if I can get vaccinated then I should get vaccinated," Shawn said.
As of Tuesday, all appointments at the Cedar Hall clinic were booked up. Keep an eye on the web site mtreadyclinic.org to see when more appointments become available for next week and to sign up. Appointments can also be made over the phone by calling 406-651-6596.