HELENA — Lewis & Clark County has expanded vaccination efforts to help individuals that may have transportation challenges or live in rural communities.
On Thursday and Friday Lewis &Clark Public Health (LCPH) in partnership with St. Peter’s Health, PureView Health Center, and the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Care Van Program hosted mobile Phase 1b vaccination clinics in Helena.
Eagles Manor residents that qualified for the current tier of Phase 1b in the county received their first doses.
Many of the senior living residents have limited means of travel, especially during winter. Individuals MTN spoke with that were getting vaccinated said they were glad to have the clinic come to them.
“Lot of these people can’t get around that well so it makes a big difference for them,” said Karen Murphy.
Margie Smith said,” We’re very lucky because I don’t drive and I would have to have somebody try to get me down to where I would go.”
Both Smith and Murphy said they were looking forward to the vaccination and hope it will be a return to some normalcy in the coming month.
Eagles Manor Service Coordinator Bobbie Sue Carowthers said she is so excited to be at the day where residents are getting vaccinated.
“Getting the vaccine in the arms of our residents have been a goal of ours,” said Carowthers. “We can’t return to any type of normalcy until they can get this vaccine. Right now they are isolated.”
Due to the risk COVID possesses to the population of Eagles Manor, residents have been getting meals delivered to their rooms and activities have been put on hold.
Carowthers says it’s been heartbreaking this last year.
“They’re lonely and the mental health aspect of all this is very difficult,” said Carowthers.
Carowthers added the county has been great to work with as has Rocky Mountain Development Council, and she’s looking forward to when more doses become available for the seniors under her care.
The mobile clinics are currently "closed point-of-distribution" sites, meaning vaccination is not available to the public.
The County COVID taskforce selected the initial sites based on the vulnerability and transportation difficulties of the residents.
The mobile clinics are part of a multi-pronged approach to vaccine distribution in Lewis and Clark County.
Pureview CEO Jill Steeley says there will be more closed point-of-distribution mobile clinics in partnership with other community organizations and rural parts of the county as vaccine supply becomes available.
“We’ve had a very limited supply of vaccine come into our county. We are hoping for more vaccine next week and we will start to plan mobile up in those communities, Lincoln and Augusta, for people 70 and older,” said Steeley.
Steeley says one of the biggest challenges COVID vaccination efforts in the county face right now is the demand for the vaccine far outweighs the available supply.
“We are hoping we’ll see some more inventory coming into the county and the state, but right now we’re very limited on how many people we can vaccinate,” said Steeley.
LCPH says they could be vaccinating three to four times the number they currently are, they just don’t have the available supply.
There is hope that the supply issues might change with President Biden’s new COVID vaccination plan. There are also a couple companies in the process of getting their vaccines approved for use.
Johnson and Johnson is expected to present their final trial data to the Food and Drug Administration in the coming weeks. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine only requires one dose.