BILLINGS - A Yellowstone County woman in her 50s has died of COVID-19 complications after she was previously vaccinated, RiverStone Health officials announced Tuesday.
The woman had an underlying health condition that may have made the vaccine less effective, according to RiverStone. She died Monday, June 7 in a Billings hospital.
She was the first person in Yellowstone County to die of COVID-19 complications following vaccination, according to Pat Zellar, a RiverStone spokesperson.
RiverStone officials said the woman's death underscores the importance of widespread vaccination among county residents. People with compromised immune systems, including cancer patients and organ transplant recipients, may find the vaccine less effective, meaning reduced community spread is the best way to protect them, according to RiverStone.
“We have very vulnerable community members whose health depends on all eligible people getting vaccinated,” said John Felton, Yellowstone County health officer and president and CEO of RiverStone Health in a statement. “I offer my deepest sympathy to the victim’s family and friends. This tragic death is a stark reminder that everyone age 12 and older should get vaccinated, not only to protect themselves, but also to safeguard their family members and neighbors from this highly contagious virus.”
Overall, the Moderna and Pfizer two-dose vaccines have been proven 95% effective at preventing infection, illness and death from COVID-19, according to RiverStone.
The death was the second COVID-related death in Yellowstone County in June.
As of Tuesday, 42 percent of Yellowstone County residents are fully vaccinated, or a total of 57,283 people, according to Montana's COVID-19 database.
Safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines are conveniently available through many local retail pharmacies for everyone age 12 and older. RiverStone Health is staffing these free, walk-in vaccination clinics:
· Friday, June 11, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., RiverStone Health, 123 S. 27th St., in the four-story building.
· Monday, June 14, noon-1 p.m., Castle Rock Park during Reading Rocks and the Billings Public Schools free summer lunch program.
· Tuesday, June 15, noon-1 p.m., Pioneer Park during Reading Rocks and the lunch program.
· Wednesday, June 16, noon-1 p.m., Castle Rock Park.
· Thursday, June 17, noon-1 p.m., Central Park during Reading Rocks and lunch program.
People under 18 must have a vaccination consent form signed by a parent or guardian. Consent forms are available at the clinics and at covid.riverstonehealth.org under “vaccinations”.