Missoula City County Health Officer Ellen Leahy asked KGVO to relay a message to residents of Missoula, please stop calling the health department about COVID 19 vaccinations.

“We have to ask right now, and until further notice, that if unless you're a health care worker in Missoula County, please don't call,” said Leahy.  “We do not have vaccine for anyone except for health care workers right now. It won't be released into our county for anyone except the healthcare workers and we are still working on getting the health care workers their first shot. We’re getting close to being done with that, but of course, this vaccine requires a booster 21 days later.”

One of the benefits of the newly established Gianforte administration is that, unlike the Bullock administration, his staff actually gave the local health departments a heads-up on changes in vaccine distributions before announcing them to the public, giving them time to prepare.

“I welcome the switch of moving those who are most vulnerable to complications from COVID,” she said. “Hospitalization and death have been moved up in the priority tier and that is absolutely essential. These are the folks who are most likely to have the worst outcomes.”

Leahy also had praise for the Gianforte team in resetting the age groups who will have access to the next round of COVID 19 vaccines.

“In the next group, which happens to be called 1-B, are those most vulnerable from complications, poor outcomes and death and hospitalization from COVID,” she said. “Based on all the evidence we've had so far in the pandemic, those are older folks to start with, so the governor instead of that demarcation being at age 75, you don't have to have any underlying disease to qualify, you're just 75 he moved it up to 70. Good move.”

Leahy said the entire health department staff is extremely busy and they just don't have time to be constantly answering the same questions about the vaccine.

"Here's the important part," she said. "We don't have that vaccine yet. We don't have it. Doctor's offices don't have it. Pharmacies don't have it. Nobody has that yet and calling them and asking them, can I get in? that you're not going to get an answer, and we are understandably getting an awful lot of inquiries. We really need to use our time to plan how to get it to them. And so we would really request that people use the website.

Leahy is asking anyone with questions about the vaccine and the priority protocols to visit the Missoula City County Health Department’s website for more information.


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