The Teton County Health Department is being inundated with calls from county residents wondering when they will be able to get vaccinated for COVID-19, TCHD Director Melissa Moyer said on Monday.
The county has given the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to about 171 people who are on the Phase 1a list — long-term care staff and residents (of nursing homes and assisted living facilities); healthcare providers who work directly with patients (including hospital and clinic staff, emergency medical technicians, primary-care providers, dental and vision providers, physical therapists and chiropractors, mental health providers and home health workers); and other first responders, including law enforcement and firefighters.
The TCHD will hold a second clinic for 1a eligible people on Jan. 15 starting at 9 a.m. at the Roxy Theatre in Choteau. Appointments are necessary and can be made by calling the TCHD at 466-2562.
After that clinic is done, Moyer said, the county will have completed its 1a first-dose shots. All of those receiving the Moderna vaccination will need a second dose 28 days after the first shot.
The next phase of vaccinations will be for all people 70 and older and those 16 to 69 who have specific underlying health issues including Type I or II diabetes, COPD, cancer, Down syndrome, certain heart conditions (like coronary artery disease), sickle cell disease, severe obesity (BMI of 40 or greater), chronic kidney disease or are organ transplant recipients. Moyer said certain people may have other conditions that put them at higher risk for life-threatening COVID-19 complications, and anyone who thinks they may have such a condition should contact their healthcare provider for guidance.
Moyer said the TCHD has requested its first shipment of Phase 1b vaccine from the state, but has not yet heard whether it will be available. She has asked for it to be available for the week starting Jan. 18.
Moyer said Phase 1b is large and she anticipates the county being in that phase for some time. She also noted that the county is using the Moderna vaccine, which is only authorized for people ages 18 and older.
She said the first shot of vaccine has been well tolerated by those who have received it, and there have been no severe allergic reactions.
“No severe reactions at all,” she said. “Anecdotally, we’ve talked to people who have said they had a sore arm, or had slight fever or body aches afterward.”
She also cautioned county residents about letting down their vigilance while waiting for vaccine to become available. “Even though the vaccine is out and we’re all very excited about it, it’s still really important to practice all the safety protocols: social distancing, wearing a mask, limiting gatherings,” she said.
Last week, from Jan. 4 to Jan. 10, the county has had 12 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, and on Monday had 13 active cases. The demographics of those who were infected last week are: females, four in their 20s, one in her 40s, two in their 50s and one in her 80s; and males, one in his 30s and two in their 50s.
There was also one person infected who the state did not have a gender on. That person was in their 20s.