COVID vaccine booster clinics start this week

Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Beaverhead County residents considering a booster COVID-19 shot will get their first chance at one this week.

Beaverhead County Public Health will hold mass COVID-19 vaccination clinics from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. next three Fridays (Dec. 3, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17) at Straugh Gymnasium on the University of Montana Western campus. All three approved booster vaccination brands (Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) will be available.

Boosters are approved for all adults (18 and older) who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations, at least six months after the second shot was administered; those who received the J&J vaccine should get one two months after that shot, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC changed its booster recommendations in light of a newly-emerging variant of concern, dubbed the Omicron variant. Previously, the CDC said those over 50 should get the booster, while all others may elect to do so.

Not much is known about the Omicron variant at this point, which has been detected in at least 16 countries.

Appointments for the clinics are encouraged, call 406-683-3203 and leave a message with a name and phone number.

Beaverhead County continues to add new COVID-19 positive cases each week, though the case counts have declined. The county clocked 20 new cases and no new deaths over the past week, though case reports may be delayed because of the Thanksgiving holiday. New cases were in people in all age groups, with the majority in people in their 70s. As of Tuesday, there were 14 active and 1,574 total cases for the county; 53% of eligible county residents are vaccinated.

New case counts continue to decline statewide, but newlyreported deaths are growing. As of Tuesday, the state added 2,507 new cases and 104 deaths in the past week; there have been 191,012 total cases and 2,671 deaths from COVID-19 counted since the start of the pandemic. The state lists 51% of residents vaccinated, compared to 59.3% nationwide.

Statewide hospitalizations have declined over the past few weeks. Three people were hospitalized with COVID-19 at Barrett Hospital, and the facility was 44% full, according to the most recent statewide hospital report. Facilities in Cascade, Chouteau, Flathead and Yellowstone counties were over 90% full, and facilities in Lewis and Clark and Sweet Grass counties were 100% full.

There have been more than 48.1 million cases and over 776,700 deaths tallied nationwide since the start of the pandemic, according to the CDC.