GREAT FALLS — The Cascade City-County Health Department has announced temporary changes to the COVID-19 vaccination appointment scheduling process.
There will be no online scheduling on Thursday, February 11, for appointments next week (February 15, 17, 19). Instead, all appointments will be booked from the existing waiting list.
Interest in the waiting list has been very high, so in order to get through as many names as possible on the waiting list, online scheduling is temporarily suspended. People near the top of the list will receive a call or email to schedule their appointments.
If you are age 70 or older and have not already put yourself on the waiting list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 406-791-9250 and leave the following information.
- Full name and spelling
- Home address
- Phone number (if calling) and/or email address
- Date of birth
Please put yourself on the waitlist using either phone OR email - not both. Creating duplicate entries for one individual only slows down the process. At this time, the Vaccination List phone line and email will remain open at all hours and people do not have to wait for scheduled times to join the waiting list.
Please be aware that you will not receive a call back indicating that we received your message. We will call you once your name is at the top of the list and we are ready to schedule your appointment. Emails will receive an auto-reply. (Note that you will only receive one. If you email us more than once, you will not receive more than one auto-reply).
(JANUARY 29) The Cascade City-County Health Department in Great Falls said on Friday that 1,000 people are scheduled to receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine next week, and the first vaccination clinics that were held on Monday (January 25) and Wednesday (January 27) went well.
In a news release, the CCHD said that on Thursday, January 28, the new COVID-19 vaccination list phone line received more than 8,000 phone calls before 11:30 a.m., and as of 4 p.m. they had received more than 700 emails in the new email@example.com inbox. They added: "CCHD and our health care partners at Benefis, Great Falls Clinic, and Alluvion are grateful for this evidence of our community’s willingness to receive the vaccine. We ask for our residents’ patience as we carefully log each voicemail & email in the list."
The CCHD says that whether you are leaving a voicemail (406-791-9250) or sending an email (firstname.lastname@example.org), in order to be placed on the waiting list, people must leave the following information in their message and should take care to speak clearly and slowly:
- Date of birth (MM/DD/YYYY)
This information must be included in order to be placed on the list.
In Cascade County, 4,792 people have now received their first dose of the COVID vaccine, and an additional 1,099 people are now fully immunized (received both doses), for a total of 5,891 total doses administered. About 9,000 more people aged 70+ are eligible for vaccination, just part of a total 64,953 people eligible in Cascade County classified as Tier 1B of Governor Greg Gianforte’s vaccination plan. The CCHD says that this is a "great number of people to vaccinate," and at this rate it will take some time to get enough doses to give to everyone who wants to receive the vaccine. Currently, Cascade County is allocated to receive between 1,000 and 1,500 doses per week, and the county is not able to get more due to limited supply statewide.
- Montana ready to increase vaccinations, but needs more supply
- More frustration over vaccine sign-up process in Great Falls
The CCHD also said that people who want the vaccine tend to contact their office in waves, and that people do not need to contact them in more than one way. If you successfully schedule an appointment on the online portal at www.benefis.org/covidvaccine, they ask that you do not put yourself on the waitlist. If you do not successfully schedule an appointment, put yourself on the waitlist using phone OR email - not both. Creating duplicate entries for an individual only slows down the process.
When calling the vaccination list phone line (406-791-9250), people who get an error message or a busy signal should hang up and call again later. They should not call other County departments when trying to get through, since they are unable to transfer calls to this line. Other healthcare agencies are also unable to transfer calls. At this time, the phone line and email will remain open at all hours and people do not have to wait for scheduled times to join the waiting list.
They added: "Please be aware that you will not receive a call back indicating that we received your message. We will call you once your name is at the top of the list and we are ready to schedule your appointment."
Alternately, if you call the phone line and are unable to leave a voicemail, you can send your information to email@example.com. You do not need to do both. Both voicemails and emails are logged into the same spreadsheet, and creating duplicate entries slows down the process. When you email firstname.lastname@example.org, you can expect an auto-reply email as a response, which confirms that we received your email. If you do not see this auto-reply, then please wait a few minutes and check your spam folder or double-check that you sent your information to the correct email address.
They closed by saying: "We thank the public for the feedback we have received over the last weeks and want to assure you that we are incorporating it whenever possible. Appointment slots will open on a weekly basis and we are confident that as time goes on, the process of scheduling COVID-19 vaccination will enable us to serve our residents in an increasingly smooth and efficient manner."