BILLINGS- Appointments are now available for the third week of Yellowstone County’s free mass vaccination clinic at MetraPark’s Cedar Hall.
And considering some good news about vaccinations across Montana, after Gov. Greg Gianforte announced this week that Montana ranks best in the country for doses received and used, there’s still work to be done.
“We still do not have the supply that we need to be able to vaccinate this community, and so it really is a supply and demand right now that we're adjusting to,” said Yellowstone County Deputy Health Officer Shawn Hinz.
That being said, Hinz says local COVID-19 cases remain on the decline.
“So, we're making headway,” she said.
The supply and demand issue Hinz is referring to aligns with a continued national backlog in doses, something health officials across the country continue to deal with.
Gianforte and Montana's congressional delegation have been vocal to the Biden administration about Montana needing more vaccines and asking for an increase in supplies.
Hinz said, as now it stands now, 10 percent of the population in Yellowstone has been vaccinated against the virus.
Based on state allocation projections, the Unified Health Command expects to have about 2,250 first-dose appointments available the week of March 1.
However, case numbers continue to go down, something Hinz says is promising in the fight against the virus.
And with new vaccines, such as Johnson and Johnson’s single-dose vaccine coming into the mix, after FDA approval, she says it could provide a break in the supply and demand struggle.
“You know, I think, emergency authorization for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine should be coming into play any day now,” she said. "That should create some additional supply.” An FDA panel recommended the authorization Friday, and full authorization could come as early as this weekend.
But in case you’re wondering if that could help propel Yellowstone County into phase 1-C, Hinz says not quite.
“We're a ways from that unless more vaccine comes in,” she said. “With the county averaging only 28 cases a day, you know, there are some encouraging statistics in our community. We're at 14 for every 100,000 in terms of cases, each day.”
She says the county and its residents must stay vigilant.
To schedule a first-dose vaccination appointment, at next week’s community vaccine clinic, go to mtreadyclinic.org and click on the blue button that says: Find a Clinic.
Dates and times are below.
Wednesday, March 3 – 8-11:30 a.m. AND 1-4:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 4 – 8-11:30 a.m. AND 1-4:30 p.m.
Friday, March 5 – 8-11:30 a.m.