Health Department releases its vaccine distribution plan

Vaccinations set to begin for long-term care residents and healthcare workers on Wednesday
Sam Klomhaus
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
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Park City County Health Department Administrative Assistant Trish Fievet stocks doses of the Moderna vaccine Tuesday morning at the City/County Complex. Enterprise photo by Sam Klomhaus

The Park City County Health Department will begin vaccinating healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff for COVID-19 Wednesday in downtown Livingston.

The health department received 200 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday morning, and can now begin vaccinating people in group “1A” of the county’s vaccine distribution plan, released Monday afternoon.

That group includes frontline healthcare workers, long term care and assisted living residents and staff, and other healthcare workers with direct patient contact, according to the plan, including dentists, home health providers and physical therapists.

According to the plan, the first group will receive its first dose by Jan. 6 and its second dose four weeks later.

The vaccine distribution plan divides people into four groups: 1A, 1B, 1C, and 2.

Group 1B includes people 75 and older, those residing in correctional facilities, American Indians and other people of color at higher risk for COVID-19 complications and frontline essential workers such as first responders, education and childcare employees, grocery store employees, corrections workers, critical infrastructure IT and energy workers and critical infrastructure federal employees, according to the plan. The plan says that group 1B is anticipated to be vaccinated between Jan. 15 and March 15.

Group 1C includes those aged 65 and older, those aged 16-65 with high-risk medical conditions and essential workers, which includes people who work in transportation and logistics, food service, shelter/housing construction, finance, IT and communication, energy, legal, media, public safety, water/wastewater and essential government personnel, according to the plan.

Those people are anticipated to be vaccinated between March 15 and July 15.

Phase 2, anticipated to start in July, is when the vaccine will be available for everyone else, according to the plan.

Livingston HealthCare has received 400 vaccine doses and Community Health Partners has received 200 doses, according to a health department press release.

The plan may change depending on vaccine availability and federal and state recommendations, Park CityCounty Health Officer Dr. Laurel Desnick said in the release.

The plan was put together with guidance from Montana Department of Health and Human Services, the release said.

Desnick said Tuesday the county’s plan basically copies the state’s recommendations word for word.

“We are not making our own rules,” she said.

Desnick spent Tuesday morning painting the county’s former testing site at 105 W Lewis St. and getting it ready to become the county’s vaccination clinic.

Testing operations have been moved to the Park County Fairgrounds, and the county commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to secure the site for 12 months. The county had been on a month to month deal leasing the site.

The site is also being fitted with an improved ventilation system that will circulate more air to keep staffers and members of the public safe, she said.

The Health Department will also do vaccine clinics in other parts of the county for those who don’t live in Livingston, Desnick said.

Health Department Director Alex Baukus told the county commissioners Tuesday the department will head to the southern part of the county Monday for vaccine distribution.

The vaccine campaign is expected to continue for many months, Desnick said.

“In the meantime, we know what works,” she said.

It will be well into summer before the health department feels comfortable backing off on its COVID-19 restrictions, Desnick said, and the vaccine shouldn’t be taken as a magic bullet.

People still need to be safe after they’ve been vaccinated, she said, and it shouldn’t take the place of precautions that are already in place.

“This is not flipping a switch,” Desnick said.

The Moderna vaccination is given in two doses, and on reception of the first dose people will get an information sheet, as well as a card listing the vaccination type and date given, plus a reminder to come back for the second dose.

That way people will get the same vaccine for both doses, Desnick said.

So far the vaccine has been shown to be pretty safe, Desnick said, although the Health Department will be ready for any issues that may arise.

“Our goal is to vaccinate everyone in Park County that wants a vaccine as quickly and as safely as possible,” Desnick said in the release.

“This is not flipping a switch.”

- Dr. Laurel Desnick, Park County Health Officer