COVID-19

Flathead County Announces Additional Vaccine Clinic This Week

County received 1,000 more doses from state, plans to distribute those doses at clinic on Friday, Feb. 12

By Andy Viano

The Flathead City-County Health Department (FCCHD), in partnership with Kalispell Regional Healthcare, plans to vaccinate an additional 1,000 people at a newly announced clinic at the Flathead County Fairgrounds on Friday, Feb. 12.

Friday’s event will be in addition to the regularly scheduled Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday clinics this week. The move comes after the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services delivered an “auxiliary shipment” of 1,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to the county.

The state and county are currently vaccinating residents in Tier 1B, which includes anyone 70 and older, Native Americans and other people of color, and those with select medical conditions. All vaccinations in Flathead County, including those at the Feb. 12 clinic, are being done by appointment only. Appointments can be requested by completing an online form at flatheadhealth.org/covid-19-vaccine or calling (406) 751-8119.

According to a press release put out by the FCCHD on Tuesday, Kalispell Regional Healthcare employees will be assisting county staff in calling back residents on the vaccine waitlist to schedule appointments, something that has been a struggle for the department due to overwhelming demand. The COVID-19 vaccine call center is staffed by three or four people and sometimes tasked with responding to more than 1,000 calls a day, the vast majority of which are redirected to a voicemail where residents are asked to leave their name, phone number and date of birth, then await a call back. Health department officials are asking residents who have submitted the online form or left a voicemail requesting an appointment to “answer phone calls from local numbers” in order to make appointment scheduling more efficient.

Vaccine clinics are being held at the Expo Center at the Flathead County Fairgrounds and can accommodate the distribution of several hundred doses per day. They are staffed by members of the FCCHD, Kalispell Regional Healthcare employees, and volunteers from the medical community and beyond.

“I’m proud of the way our healthcare community has come together to serve our region during this pandemic, and vaccine distribution is no exception,” KRH Chief Nursing Officer Ryan Pitts said. “We’re glad that we can support the FCCHD by providing staff and other resources to help with the vaccine clinics. It really is a team effort.”

“It’s great to have this ongoing partnership with Kalispell Regional Healthcare,” Russell said. “We are committed to distributing vaccine as efficiently as possible, and this clinic provides an additional opportunity to vaccinate our community’s most vulnerable.”

According to FCCHD data, 5,966 residents had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Feb. 5, and 2,457 people were fully vaccinated.

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