News Releases and
May 17, 2022
Missoula County Sees Uptick in COVID-19 Cases; Hospitalizations Remain Low
Missoula County is experiencing a notable uptick in COVID-19 cases with 65 new cases and 203 active cases reported Tuesday, May 17. The seven-day daily average of new cases per 100,000 people increased in the past two weeks from 10 per 100,000 on Tuesday, May 3 to 20 per 100,000 today. While this increase is notable, public health officials say it was expected.
“When you couple highly infectious subvariants and sub-lineages with a relaxed public attitude toward COVID you’re bound to see increases in cases,” explained Health Officer D’Shane Barnett.
Nationwide, a variety of Omicron subvariants and sub-lineages are contributing to an increase in cases. The highly infectious Omicron subvariant BA.2 is currently the dominant variant nationwide. Scientists have previously described it as being as infectious as the Measles or Chickenpox. Meanwhile, a sub-lineage, BA.2.12.1, which is believed to be even more infectious than BA.2 is gaining steam in large metropolitan areas of the nation. The latest genetic sequencing results from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services published on April 29, indicated Omicron variants made up 99% of Montana’s COVID-19 cases. Notably, 63% of cases were BA.2.
While the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Level for Missoula County remains low, many key COVID-19 indicators that Missoula Public Health monitor as early alert signals for a changing COVID situation have moved to yellow status.
“When we move a key indicator to yellow, it means that we are doing worse than the week before. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re bad overall,” Barnett explained. “For example, as of May 11 the transmission rate of COVID is 1.15. That means each COVID positive individual is infecting more than one person on average. When that number is above one, cases are increasing, when it is below one cases are decreasing.”
Missoula Public Health continues to work with healthcare providers in the community to ensure there is capacity to handle surges in testing and vaccination. At this time, Missoula Public Health will still move forward with discontinuing its COVID-19 testing services at the 3665 W. Broadway clinic after Thursday, May 19. COVID-19 vaccine appointments will continue to be offered in a one-on-one appointment style through Missoula Public Health’s immunization clinic at 301 W. Alder Street.
“Preserving hospital capacity remains the top priority and it is something we watch closely.” Barnett continued, “Thankfully, we have the tools available to prevent the worst outcomes of COVID-19. The federal government just allowed households to order a third batch of COVID-19 tests. Tests also remain available at several pharmacies and walk-in clinics. Vaccines and boosters are one of the strongest tools to prevent severe hospitalization and death. Vaccines remain available at pharmacies across our community. Lastly, if individuals test positive for COVID-19, they are encouraged to reach out to their provider to see if they would be a good candidate for Paxlovid or Molnupiravir. These COVID-19 therapeutics can help prevent severe illness and death in vulnerable individuals. They are most effective when taken within five days of symptoms onset.”
Missoula Public Health also recommends that individuals who are particularly vulnerable to severe outcomes from COVID-19 may want to consider wearing high-filtration masks, such as KN95s, KF94s or N95s, in crowded indoor settings.
April 7, 2022
Health Department Announces Changes to COVID-19 Testing Services
As COVID-19 cases continue to decline and the public need for COVID-19 testing services wanes, the Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) will be winding down COVID-19 testing services over the coming weeks.
COVID-19 testing at the 3665 W. Broadway Clinic will be open Sundays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Testing operations will be closed Sunday, April 17 in observance of the Easter holiday. COVID-19 testing operations at the West Broadway Clinic will cease operations on Thursday, May 19.
MCCHD will also reduce, then cease, mobile COVID-19 testing in Seeley Lake, Clinton, Frenchtown and Lolo. Through April, MCCHD will provide mobile testing the week of April 3 and April 17 only, then cease operations come May.
“Several other entities in town will still provide COVID-19 testing,” explained Health Officer D’Shane Barnett, “The health department is also prepared to scale up operations again in the event of another COVID-19 surge.”
MCCHD still has a limited number of free at-home COVID-19 tests available for pick-up at 3665 W. Broadway during clinic hours. Furthermore, residents are encouraged to order free at-home COVID-19 tests through the federal government at covid.gov/tests.
Health Department to move COVID-19 vaccine services to main offices
March 1, 2022
With the sharp decline in demand for vaccine, the Missoula City-County Health Department will move the COVID-19 vaccine clinic into the main health department building, located at 301 W. Alder Street on Monday, March 7.
COVID-19 vaccines will be available during normal hours by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call the immunization clinic directly at 406-258-3363.
The clinic will take walk-ins during the following days and times:
Mondays - 5 to 7 p.m.
Wednesdays - 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturdays - 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Patients will need to fill out a new set of paperwork ahead of time, which can be found at missoulainfo.com.
The health department would also like to remind residents that no COVID-19 tests are provided at 301 W. Alder Street and residents who come in seeking tests will be told to call 406-258-4636 to book an appointment for our 3665 W. Broadway location.
Health Department to provide remaining at-home Covid-19 test kits.
Feb. 10, 2022
The Missoula City-County Health Department will begin distributing Missoula County's allotment of at-home rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits on Monday, February 14th. Tests can be picked up from the COVID-19 Testing Center located at 3665 West Broadway, Missoula. Each kit contains two at-home COVID-19 tests, and one kit will be distributed per household.
The Health Department asks that those who are picking up a test kit use the testing entrance to the parking lot. Those who are picking up kits will not need to get out of their car to receive an at-home test kit.
The test kits will be handed out during the following clinic hours:
Monday: 3:00pm - 7:00pm
Tuesday: 9:00am - 4:00pm
Wednesday: 9:00am - 4:00pm
Thursday: 9:00am - 4:00pm
Friday: 9:00am - 1:00pm
Saturday: 10:00am - 2:00pm
Sunday: No hours.
The Health Department will provide kits to the public until stock runs out.
Missoula County to distribute 25,980 free at-home COVID test kits to public
Feb. 2, 2022
The Missoula County Office of Emergency Management will begin distributing 25,980 free at-home rapid antigen COVID-19 test kits to residents countywide, starting this Sunday, Jan. 30, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at a drive-thru event at Fort Missoula Regional Park in the parking lot next to the baseball fields along South Avenue. Each COVID test kit contains two at-home tests.
OEM is slated to receive the test kits this week from the state Department of Public Health and Human Services. Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte announced earlier this month that the state ordered 650,000 BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self COVID tests to distribute statewide.
In addition to Fort Missoula, OEM will distribute test kits in communities throughout the county on the following days:
· Frenchtown: Sunday, Jan. 30, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Frenchtown Fire Station
· Clinton: Sunday, Jan. 30, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Clinton Fire Station
· Seeley Lake: By appointment, call (406) 677-2400, Seeley Lake Fire Station
With the omicron variant continuing to surge in Missoula County, identification of disease and self-isolation for people who test positive remain important measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“Staff shortages and increasing hospitalizations are placing more and more stress on our healthcare system, and taking that strain off them is a top priority,” OEM Director Adriane Beck said. “These tests will give people the ability to test themselves at home and catch the disease early so they can begin isolating faster and limit disease spread and hospitalizations.”
There is a limited supply of test kits per household. In addition to OEM’s distribution, people can also order free COVID test kits from the federal government to be delivered to their homes by visiting COVIDtests.gov or calling 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489). Local pharmacies also sell at-home COVID tests, though supplies are often limited.
Health officials ask people to closely follow testing instructions included with the package. Rapid antigen tests are more sensitive in people with symptoms and during the first week of symptoms. If a test is taken early in an infection, the virus may not trigger a positive result. People who initially test negative may test positive later and be contagious. For best results, follow the directions carefully and take two tests 24 to 48 hours apart. This is why the at-home COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test is available as a two-count box.
Those who do test positive should immediately begin isolating from others, seek medical care if necessary, notify close contacts and report their positive result to http://missoula.co/athometest. Health officials ask those who are experiencing COVID-like symptoms and test negative using at-home tests to schedule a PCR test with MCCHD or their healthcare provider. Information on scheduling a test with the health department is online at missoulainfo.com.
Health department provides instructions and resources for residents who test positive for COVID-19 at home
Jan. 19, 2022
With the White House launching a program to deliver half a billion COVID-19 tests straight to Americans’ homes and Governor Greg Gianforte securing 650,000 at-home COVID-19 tests for Montanans, the health department expects many community members will soon need guidance on what they should do if they test positive at home.
There are three important steps residents who test positive at home should follow: isolate themselves, inform their close contacts they tested positive and fill out a form for the health department. Missoulainfo.com provides thorough, but easy-to-understand guidance on these steps.
“The health department’s COVID-19 website provides a roadmap for positive individuals and close contacts,” says Incident Commander Cindy Farr, “We want residents to make use of this valuable resource.”
Isolation is when a person who tests positive for COVID-19 separates themselves from others in their household. Isolation instructions can be found under the “COVID+ / Close Contacts” tab on missoulainfo.com under “I tested positive”. Close contacts can find instructions on how long they should quarantine, if they need to, under the “I’m a close contact” button.
Lastly, residents should report positive results by going to missoulainfo.com and clicking on the “COVID+ / Close Contacts” button, then clicking on “I tested positive at home”. On that page, they’ll find a form they should fill out for the health department.
The health department does not collect data on negative results. If individuals have COVID-19 symptoms, but test negative at home they are encouraged to book a PCR testing appointment. Individuals looking to ask the health department further questions or request a follow-up test can call 406-258-4636. The health department would also like to remind residents that no COVID-19 tests are provided at 301 W. Alder street and residents who come in seeking tests will be told to call 406-258-4636 to book an appointment for our 3665 W. Broadway location.
Local doctors answer questions regarding omicron, COVID-19 in general and more
Jan. 10, 2022
Health Officials discuss updated mask guidance, strongly urge more community members to partake in masking
Jan. 6, 2022
Recent guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate the Omicron COVID-19 variant is three times more contagious than the Delta variant and masks with better filtration will provide better protection. Infectious disease experts say citizens should use a N95 or KN95 if they have the option to with Omicron on the rise. Recent studies show that cloth face masks provide the least amount of protection. Surgical masks out-perform cloth masks but don’t come close to providing the same protection a N95 or KN95 mask does.
Health officials say if individuals cannot purchase or find N95 or KN95 style masks, they should wear a triple layer cloth mask or surgical mask along with a cloth mask. Masks should also have a snug fit on the individual’s face to prevent leakage of droplets.
“While healthcare providers were struggling to get N95 masks at the start of the pandemic that hasn’t been the case for a long while. We want folks to make sure they are using high-quality masks or wearing multiple layers of masks if they cannot get N95s or KN95s,” explains Health Officer D’Shane Barnett.
The CDC says Missoula County is currently experiencing high transmission and masking is strongly recommended for people in public settings, but Health Officer D’Shane Barnett says not enough community members are choosing to wear masks.
“When you go around town, you can see that the percentage of people choosing to wear masks is just too low to stop a surge from happening,” Barnett goes on to say, “we can’t mandate masks. We need more people to choose do to the right thing.”
Businesses and other public settings can make a big difference in Missoula’s fight against COVID-19 by reminding patrons that wearing a mask is the best choice for the safety of themselves and others. Free posters encouraging mask use can be downloaded from missoulainfo.com under the resources tab.
Omicron variant confirmed in Missoula County
Dec. 21, 2021
On Dec. 21, Fyr Diagnostics, the lab that processes and sequences the Missoula City-County Health Department’s COVID-19 tests, detected the Omicron variant. The individual infected with the variant was tested at MCCHD. Case investigation is pending, and it is unknown at this time if the individual contracted the variant through travel or community spread. Due to the highly contagious nature of this variant, the health department encourages citizens to take precautions and assume the variant is circulating in the community.
Also Tuesday, President Biden told the nation that “we should all be concerned about Omicron but not panicked,” and health officials in Missoula agree.
“Thankfully, we know what actions can limit the spread of this variant. It’s just a matter of members of our community practicing these commonsense mitigation measures to protect one another,” explains Health Officer D’Shane Barnett.
COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr added, “So far, data show the vaccines still provide good protection against severe illness due to omicron. We highly encourage everyone to get their boosters or start their vaccine series if they have not done so already.”
The health department recommends individuals practice the following as well:
Get boosted immediately or start your vaccines series if you have not done so already.
Wear a mask at all times in public and stay distanced from others.
Keep your social circle to 10 friends or fewer. Consider only hanging out with individuals who are outside of your immediate household in well ventilated areas and keep your masks on.
Wash your hands frequently with hot soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your face as much as possible.
Stay home if you are sick and seek COVID-19 testing.
For COVID-19 testing appointments, Missoula County citizens should call 406-258-INFO.
Missoula City-County Health Department announces location for new COVID-19 vaccine and testing facility
Dec. 8, 2021
The Missoula City-County Health Department will house its COVID-19 testing and vaccine operations under one roof later this month. The new facility at 3665 W. Broadway will provide both rapid and PCR COVID-19 tests starting on Dec. 20. This facility will offer COVID-19 vaccine starting on Dec. 27. The facility is just a few buildings down the street from the health department’s current COVID-19 testing site on Flynn Lane. The health department will vacate the facilities on Flynn Lane and at the Southgate Mall later this month, but services at those sites remain operational until then.
“The health department will continue to provide these essential COVID-19 services for the foreseeable future,” explains Health Officer D’Shane Barnett.
COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr says, “As vaccine uptake remains low abroad and here at home, we’re at risk for new variants popping up. Our testing facility is preparing to handle whatever omicron throws at us and we’re encouraging every eligible Montanan to get vaccinated or boosted if they haven’t done so already.”
Meanwhile, top U.S. health officials also recommend everyone 18 and older get a COVID-19 booster shot as the nation works to slow the spread of both delta and omicron ahead of the holidays. As of Dec. 6, roughly 35% of fully vaccinated Missoula County residents have received COVID-19 booster shots. Missoula County residents can make appointments through the health department on missoulainfo.com or check with their local pharmacy.
In addition to boosters, county residents can help the community avoid another wave of the virus by masking up in crowded places, staying on top of hand hygiene, staying home when sick and by keeping their social circles small.
MCCHD launches Parent Education Week
Nov. 1, 2021
As some parents and guardians eagerly await CDC approval for COVID-19 vaccines in ages five and older, others remain uncertain as to whether they want to get their children vaccinated. The Missoula City-County Health Department is encouraging local parents and guardians to take part in a week of education leading up to the approval of vaccines for ages five and older.
The following are ways to get involved in the week of education:
Make time this week to talk with your doctor or pediatrician about concerns you have when it comes to getting your child vaccinated against COVID-19.
Ask your pediatrician for legitimate resources to learn more about the vaccines.
Follow the health department on Facebook and Instagram as it will share information from experts on child vaccinations throughout the week.
Amplify the health department’s messaging by sharing its educational posts this week so parents in your social circle will see it.
Disarm disinformation—if you see disinformation on social media report it and alert the person who shared it that it is false. Recommend legitimate information to them, such as content from the health department.
“The health department wants this our community to make informed decisions about the health of their our children—that’s easier to do when you are working with facts,” explains Health Officer D’Shane Barnett, “The health department is encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible-- the data from the clinic trials show the vaccine is safe.”
The health department plans to offer COVID-19 vaccine appointments for children ages five and older on Monday, Nov. 8, pending the CDC’s approval meeting goes as anticipated. Appointments are required to ensure adequate staffing and supplies. The link to make appointments is available on missoulainfo.com. Online booking for child appointments goes live the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 6. Second dose appointments must take place 21 days after the first dose, the health department will not be able to provide flexibility on this.
MCCHD offers Halloween safety advice
Oct. 29, 2021
As parents and guardians eagerly await CDC approval for COVID-19 vaccines in ages five and older, many are also wondering how to navigate Halloween activities with their unvaccinated children. Thankfully, trick-or-treating is safe so long as physical distancing, masking and clean hands are involved.
The health department recommends parents use the following tips to keep their Halloween COVID-free while trick-or-treating.
Keep the child’s trick-or-treating group small.
Don’t let large groups of kids congregate on doorsteps and keep your group physically distanced from other groups.
Have your children wear proper masks, if they have a costume mask they should wear their actual mask underneath, but make sure this doesn’t impact the child’s breathing.
Bring along hand sanitizer – you don’t need to sanitize after every single house, but occasional sanitization is a good idea.
As far as candy safety goes, the health department advises against adults using chemicals to sanitize candy wrappers. “COVID-19 is not primarily spread by surfaces—while it can happen, it is incredibly rare,” explains Health Officer D’Shane Barnett, “Trying to clean a candy wrapper with bleach will definitely do more harm than good.”
For adults, the health department is advising against large gatherings. “I’m hoping folks—especially college kids-- pick popcorn and scary movie at home over going to a big rager,” says Barnett. The CDC is advising against large indoor parties. Health department officials say if you must have a gathering you should keep it to 10 vaccinated friends or fewer. In addition, having your guests wear masks when they aren’t eating or drinking and keeping windows open to improve ventilation can greatly reduce the chances of transmission at a small gathering.
COVID-19 briefing with Cindy Farr
Oct. 25, 2021
Missoula City-County Health Department's COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr provides an update on record hospitalization capacity, deaths, where most people appear to be contracting COVID-19, who is eligible for boosters, monoclonal antibodies and more.
MCCHD to automate more COVID-19 services
Oct. 25, 2021
In an effort to more effectively meet the public health need of our community, the Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) is automating much of its COVID-19 response activities. This includes a shift from quarantine orders to recommendations for most close contacts, as this will increase efficiency and allow for information to make its way more quickly to individuals who have been exposed to the virus. The health department is implementing these changes based on recommendations from community members and in response to the continuing case numbers due to the delta variant.
By the end of this week, MCCHD will text all patients their COVID-19 test results and will initiate case investigation and contact tracing by texting patients web forms to fill out. MCCHD has already been texting a small portion of its patients to test these systems. This move will speed up case investigation and contact tracing significantly.
“Among the individuals we tested this new technology with, 60% returned all of their information completely via the web form,” says Brian Chaszar, MCCHD deputy operations chief. “This is going to make a huge impact on our ability to get information out to people much more quickly.” D’Shane Barnett, MCCHD health officer adds, “We have people in our community who want to be responsible and do the right thing, but it can be confusing to know what that is depending on their situation. This new approach supports our community members in taking steps to prevent the spread of this virus by tailoring instructions based on each individual’s responses on the form.”
All testing patients at Flynn Lane will be able to get their results via text message. COVID-19 positive patients tested through the health department* will get a text to a web form within 48 hours of taking their COVID-19 test. This web form gives patients instructions on how to properly isolate and more. If patients don’t fill out their web form within 24 hours of receiving it, they’ll get a phone call from a case investigator. Patients will also have the option while filling out their form to request a phone call from us. Patients will also be auto-enrolled in SARA-alert, the health department’s software that tracks patient’s symptoms while they are in isolation.
The health department’s goal is to text close contacts within 24 hours of receiving a positive patient’s fully filled out web form. Close contacts will be asked a series of questions in their web form and given and appropriate recommendation for quarantining based of their answers.
The information collected from these secure HIPAA-compliant web forms will only be used for contact tracing and epidemiological purposes. For those community members who do not have access to technology, or who prefer to complete the process with a staff member, that option will remain in place.
*The health department would like to note that our timelines to contact patients may vary for individuals tested at private clinics as the health department cannot guarantee how long it will take a private clinic to turn over positive results to us. Patients tested with at-home testing kits should report their results to the health department at www.misssoula.co/athometest.
MCCHD to start Moderna and Janssen booster appointments
on Oct. 25
Oct. 21, 2021
On Monday, Oct. 25, the Missoula City-County Health Department will start offering booster doses of the Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) COVID-19 vaccines to eligible county residents. The boosters will be available at the health department’s vaccine site at Southgate Mall. The ability to schedule appointments for Monday or later will be available on the health department’s website starting Saturday, Oct. 23.
Before scheduling an appointment, patients should make sure they fit one of the criteria below:
65 years and older (Moderna)
Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings (Moderna)
Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions (Moderna)
Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings (Moderna)
Anyone who previously received a Janssen shot is eligible.
There must be at least six months between a patient’s second dose and booster dose for Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. For Janssen, qualified individuals should wait two months between their first one shot dose and the booster.
At the MCCHD clinic at Southgate Mall, booster shots will be available by appointment only to assure adequate supply and staffing. The health department is asking county residents to be sure to bring along their COVID-19 vaccination record card. Appointments are available by calling 258-INFO (4636), option 3 or online at missoulainfo.com.
COVID-19 records broken
Oct. 8, 2021
Missoula County again broke several COVID-19 records on Friday, Oct. 8. This comes on the heels of the community breaking COVID-19 records several times in the month of September. The records broken today include daily COVID-19 cases at 178 and the incidence rate of 96 cases per 100,000 people per day over the last seven days. Missoula County is one hospitalization short of tying the patient record of 57. Furthermore, seven Missoula County residents have died from the virus since Monday, Oct. 4.
While this surge appears to be plateauing in other parts of the nation, health officials warn we may not see that happen in Montana which remains one of the few states in the nation with less than 50% of its population fully vaccinated.
Health officials say vaccination is the best way to ensure an individual does not end up seriously ill or hospitalized due to the virus. The health department’s vaccination site at the Southgate Mall is open seven days a week and accepting walk-ups and appointments for first and second dose patients. Residents seeking third doses or booster doses must make an appointment. The clinic’s hours and a link to make appointments can be found on missoulainfo.com.
COVID-19 briefing with Cindy Farr
Oct. 8, 2021
Missoula City-County Health Department's COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr provides an update on record new cases, increases in hospitalization and deaths, vaccine booster doses and testing.
No, those contact tracing text messages are not a scam
Oct. 7, 2021
Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD) is implementing several changes to its case investigation and contact tracing efforts to streamline the processes for the public and health department staff.
Starting this week, residents identified as positive cases or close contacts will receive a text message from the health department with a link to a form they must fill out. This process is largely replacing the phone call notification system, however residents without cell phones will still be notified with a phone call. MCCHD does not want the public to confuse these text messages with spam or phishing attempts. Website links sent by the health department will begin with “http://missoula.co” and residents with questions regarding their forms are welcome to call 406-258-INFO.
Over the next few weeks, the health department will also redesign its missoulainfo.com website. MCCHD will make the website easier for the public to navigate and include instructions and/or advice on common situations cases, close contacts and others find themselves in regarding COVID-19. Through these changes the health department’s goal is to create a more efficient and positive experience for the residents it serves.
Seeley Lake vaccine clinic on Oct. 20
Oct. 6, 2021
Seeley Lake Residents: Mark your calendars! Another free COVID-19 vaccine clinic is coming to town on Wednesday, Oct. 20, from noon to 5 p.m. at the Community Foundation Building located at 3150 Hwy 83 N. Residents ages 12 and older are welcome. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson will be available. MCCHD will provide first, second and booster doses to those who qualify.
Who qualifies for a Pfizer booster?
• Patients aged 65 and older and residents of long-term care facilities, ages 18+.
• Patients aged 18 to 64 with underlying medical conditions.
• Patients aged 18 to 64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure because of their occupational setting.
• Boosters are solely for patients who received the Pfizer vaccine. Right now, boosters have not been authorized for the Moderna and Janssen vaccines.
• There must be at least six months between a patient’s second dose and booster dose.
Missoula County reports 11 COVID-19 deaths in one week
Missoula County is sad to announce we have lost 11 residents to COVID-19 in just the past week. This has brought the death toll to 127 residents. The staff at the Missoula City-County Health Department send our condolences to all our local families suffering the loss of a loved one. We encourage everyone to do their part to keep family, friends, neighbors and loved ones safe. Consider getting vaccinated, wearing a mask in public, keeping your social circles small and washing your hands frequently.
Sept. 27, 2021
Health department offers Pfizer boosters to groups approved by CDC guidelines
Sept. 27, 2021
On Monday, Sept. 27, the Missoula City County Health Department started offering booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to eligible county residents. Missoula City County Health Department COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr said the boosters will be available at the department’s vaccine site at Southgate Mall.
“We’re looking forward to helping county residents, but it’s important to remember there are some limitations to the boosters,” Farr said.
Boosters are for patients aged 65 and older and residents of long-term care facilities, ages 18+.
They are also authorized for patients aged 18 to 64 with underlying medical conditions.
They are also authorized for patients aged 18 to 64 who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure because of their occupational setting.
Boosters are solely for patients who received the Pfizer vaccine. Right now, boosters have not been authorized for the Moderna and Janssen vaccines.
There must be at least six months between a patient’s second dose and booster dose.
At the MCCHD clinic at Southgate Mall, booster shots will be available by appointment only. The health department is asking county residents to be sure to bring along their COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. Appointments are available by calling 258-INFO (4636), option 3 or online at covid19.missoula.co.
“Making appointments will help us ensure we have adequate staffing and supplies,” Farr said. “Our goal is to have each appointment be as safe, comfortable and smooth as possible.”
Farr noted that there has been confusion between the recently approved booster shots and third doses. Since late August, third doses have been authorized for immunocompromised patients. Those shots – of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – are authorized solely for patients with compromised immunity. MCCHD has administered about 400 of those third doses to eligible patients.
“We’ve had lots of questions about the differences between boosters and third doses,” Farr said. “The third shots are for a fairly small number of patients, while the boosters approved this month are available to the groups authorized by the FDA and CDC.”
Farr said the vaccine center also continues to offer first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna shots, and patients may either make an appointment or walk in for those. The Southgate site is out of the Janssen vaccine until further notice.