County vaccine shipment expected but unconfirmed following delay

By 
Sam Klomhaus - Enterprise Staff Writer
Monday, February 22, 2021

After last week’s COVID-19 vaccine shipments were delayed by weather issues across the country, the Park County Health Department is waiting for confirmation on this week’s delivery, expected to contain both last week and this week’s doses.

“It’s coming, but we can’t tell exactly when,” Park County Health Officer Dr. Laurel Desnick said Monday.

Desnick said the state has told her to expect to catch up to last week with this week’s shipment, but the Health Department has not received written confirmation from the manufacturer or from FedEx on the shipment.

No doses have spoiled because of the delay, Desnick said.

There is one vaccination clinic scheduled this week on Wednesday, so hopefully the doses get here before then, Desnick said.

The Health Department had to delay about a dozen second-dose appointments, Desnick said, but second doses can be administered four to six weeks after the first dose, and second dose appointments are scheduled four weeks out, so there is still plenty of time to vaccinate those people.

Desnick said the Health Department was aware in advance there might be an issue with vaccines arriving last week, so it held off on scheduling large clinics.

As long as the doses arrive, the Health Department should be able to catch up.

“We’re really crossing our fingers that we hear very soon,” Desnick said. “There are a lot of people eager for their vaccines.”

Montana is in the middle of COVID-19 vaccination phase 1B, which includes those over age 70, those with certain chronic medical conditions that put them at higher risk for COVID-19 and those in certain higher risk groups such as people of color.

Desnick said the state is making a big push to find out how many people remain to be vaccinated in Phase 1B, and the Health Department should know relatively soon if Park County still has a long way to go for Phase 1B, or if we’re getting close to finishing.

“We’re a lot closer than we were a month ago,” Desnick said.

The state government intends to move the entire state to Phase 1C, which includes frontline essential workers, those ages 60 and up, those living in congregate care and correctional facilities, and those with certain chronic medical conditions that put them at higher risk for COVID-19 but are not included in 1B.

The Health Department has been focusing on those age 75 and up, and Desnick estimated the majority of that group has been vaccinated, with the rest hopefully being vaccinated this week.

Park County has done well overall so far with the vaccine rollout, Desnick said, vaccinating eligible people across the county despite receiving a relatively low number of doses.

According to the state’s COVID-19 vaccination map, 3,307 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Park County, with 1,021 residents having received both doses.

Overall, according to the map, there have been 216,383 doses administered in Montana, with 68,191 Montanans having received their second dose.

During the pandemic, Park County has reported 1,112 COVID-19 cases, according to the state’s COVID-19 case map, with 58 active cases

Statewide, there have been 98,810 confirmed cases in Montana, according to the map, 2,170 of which are active.

There have been 1,341 deaths in Montana attributed to COVID-19, eight of which were Park County residents.