Montana: Information about vaccines

2/17/21

The COVID-19 vaccine is becoming more available, but quantities of the vaccine are limited in Montana and throughout the United States. Providence is continuing to have difficulties getting adequate allocations of the vaccine locally. Because the vaccine distribution process is determined by the Montana State Department of Public Health and Human Services and local public health authorities, the specific details for how and when people can get the vaccine varies widely.

The vaccine is now available to those in Phase 1B Tier 1—including anyone over age 70, people ages 16-69 with certain health conditions*, American Indians, and people of color older than 16. *Phase 1B qualifying health conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down syndrome, heart conditions, immunocompromised from organ transplant, severe obesity (BMI 40 or higher), sickle cell disease, and Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. 

Providence Montana has more than 12,000 Phase 1B primary care patients eligible to receive the COVID vaccine in Tier 1 (those people who are at highest risk). However, vaccine doses are extremely limited and unpredictable from week-to-week. To date, we have vaccinated 1,350 eligible patients, or roughly 11% of our eligible patients in Western Montana.

We understand Montanans are excited and anxious to receive the COVID vaccine. We are working day and night with our local health departments, with other counties and with the state to get the vaccine as quickly as we possibly can. We encourage everyone to continue to check local public health updates as more entities begin to receive and distribute the vaccine.

Once Providence primary care patients become eligible to receive the vaccine and we have doses on hand, patients will be contacted directly through their electronic medical record (MyChart), text message or telephone and be prompted to schedule a vaccine appointment. At the first vaccine appointment, we will schedule a second vaccine appointment to complete the series.

Our primary care offices do not have the vaccine and cannot schedule vaccine appointments at this time. 

Your health and well-being remain our highest priority. Thank you for continuing to do your part to keep you and our communities safe by wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and washing your hands frequently. Stay safe and be well.  

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Commonly asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccine

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe and effective?  
The COVID-19 vaccine was determined safe and highly effective in preventing COVID-19 by the FDA, the government agency that oversees and regulates vaccine development and approval. Other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also found the vaccine safe and effective after evaluation. At Providence, we carefully reviewed the data prior to making it available at our facilities. We always put the safety and well-being of patients first.    

What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?    

We know there is a small risk of side effects associated with all vaccines, but the majority of the time side effects are less serious than the diseases themselves.  The COVID-19 vaccine is no different. It may cause mild to moderate symptoms for some people. These symptoms can include pain at the injection site, fatigue, headache and fever. In very rare instances, a more serious reaction may occur. We encourage everyone to talk with their doctor before getting the vaccine, so that they can make the best health decision for them. 

What are the benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine?  

Like all vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine was designed to protect you from contracting the virus or to limit the severity of the disease should you contract it. We know from other diseases and their vaccines that we can slow or stop the spread of disease when roughly 60 to 80 percent of a population gets vaccinated. A vaccine can limit the spread of the disease by helping to protect you and those around you. This shot is our best shot at stopping COVID-19.

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