HELENA — The Montana Department of Corrections (DOC) has begun vaccinating inmates for COVID-19.
The 110 inmates at the Montana State Prison (MSP) that received doses qualified for the State of Montana’s Phase 1B under Gov. Greg Gianforte’s vaccination plan. To qualify inmates were either over the age of 70 years old, American Indians or those that had a specific medical condition that made them more at risk for a serious COVID complication.
“It’s critical to get shots into the arms of Montana’s most vulnerable populations, and many of those Montanans are located in our prison system,” said DOC Director Brian Gootkin. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to help the folks most at risk in our secure facilities with this first batch of vaccinations at the Montana State Prison.”
Over the past several weeks, the DOC’s Clinical Services team educated and evaluated MSP inmates who qualified for Phase 1B. All other inmates or individuals in congregate care will be eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1C.
The Moderna vaccinations the DOC received were allocated to MSP, and the department is working closely with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) to coordinate vaccine distribution to other DOC secure facilities.
The State says Montana’s COVID-19 vaccine supply is solely dependent on federal supply and allocations to the states. Gov. Gianforte has asked the federal government for additional doses.
Since June first of last year, DOC has seen 974 confirmed COVID-19 cases in inmates and 218 cases in staff. Six inmate deaths have been related to the virus across their seven facilities.