BILLINGS — Nearly half of last week's 2,400 free Yellowstone County COVID-19 vaccination appointments went unfilled last week as demand for the vaccine is shrinking in Yellowstone County, RiverStone Health confirmed with MTN News Wednesday.
Another sign of the lessening demand: RiverStone Health announced Wednesday the community vaccination clinic will be consolidated from two clinics to one at the Shrine Auditorium in Billings starting April 19.
About one-quarter of all Montanans- 258,190- have been fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, according to the state's COVID-19 trackers. A total of 608,990 doses have been administered statewide.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about a quarter of Montana's adult population is hesitant to get vaccinated against COVID-19, regardless of the manufacturer.
In the data collected at the end of March, about 26 percent of Montanans were hesitant about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Of that group, 13 percent were "definitely not" going to get a vaccine and 13 percent were "probably not" going to get a vaccine.
The top reasons why people were hesitant were that they were concerned about side effects and plan to wait to see if it is safe. According to the Census Bureau, 15 percent of adults across the nation are hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine. To see the data broken out into a map, including margins of error, click here.
RiverStone Health and the Yellowstone County Unified Health Command still encourage everyone who is able to get vaccinated to slow the spread and protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
There is still plenty of vaccine to go around for those age 16 and older in Yellowstone County. Appointments are available April 17, 19 and 20 this week. Scheduling an appointment can be done online at mtreadyclinic.org. You will need to scroll down to find links for the MetraPark clinic and each Shrine clinic and some may be on Page 2. Appointments can also be made over the phone at 406.651.6596 before 5 p.m. on Friday, April 16.
The state has also allowed teens 16 and 17 years old from outlying counties to get a vaccine in Yellowstone County. The out-of-county teens will need a parent or guardian present to sign a consent form and will be given the Pfizer vaccine, which is approved for people aged 16 and older. Parents can call 406-651-6415 to schedule an appointment.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control "recommended a pause" in the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. On Monday, RiverStone Health gave about 140 doses of the J&J vaccine to students in university vaccination clinics in Billings at MSUB and Rocky Mountain College. 140 of the J&J doses were to be administered the next day before the CDC's pause.
A CDC advisory committee met Wednesday to review information about blood clots found in six women six to 13 days after their Johnson and Johnson vaccination. The committee took no action, leaving the pause on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine in place, citing a need for more information on the blood clot cases.
RiverStone Health confirmed Wednesday, the remaining J&J doses have a shelf life ranging from May to June. Staff are keeping them in storage for now. Most of RiverStone's vaccine supply from the state has come from either Pfizer or Moderna since the COVID-19 vaccine first started arriving in the county late last year.