Vaccine clinics moving to Armory

By 
Casey S. Elliott
Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Beaverhead County Public Health is preparing to expand coronavirus vaccine access this week, soon moving the weekly clinics to the armory to accomodate more people.

Gov. Greg Gianforte ordered the vaccine be available to anyone who wants it starting April 1.

The weekly vaccine clinics will move to the Montana National Guard Armory on Highway 41 starting April 9; the April 2 clinic will be the last one at Straugh Gymnasium on the University of Montana Western campus, Public Health Director Sue Hansen said Monday.

The department moved the location due to the lack of parking availability at Western.

“The clinics at the college are maxed at 500 (shots) because of the parking concerns – the parking lot has one entrance and no separate exit, so there is quite a bottleneck when we get more than 500 people scheduled,” she said.

The armory also has a covered drive-thru bay that could be used to give people the paperwork that needs filling out prior to getting the shot.

The first clinic at the armory will have more than 500 doses, Hansen said, adding they could probably manage 1,000 doses per clinic with scheduling tweaks and more medical professionals providing the shots. The actual number of shots given per clinic will depend on vaccine supply. The clinics at the Armory will be held on Fridays.

Clinics for outlying areas of the county are also being set up. Currently, there is one scheduled for March 31 at the Wisdom Community Center in Wisdom starting at 2 p.m.; and one for April 1 scheduled at the Lima School beginning at 2 p.m.

Residents who have previously had COVID and are past their isolation time are encouraged to get the vaccine. Hansen said protection from the virus is not long-lasting when you get COVID. Side effects from the vaccine are often mild. Hansen said the majority of reactions in the county have been a sore arm for a few days; other reactions ranged from headaches and body aches to fatigue and low-grade fever. Symptoms are generally gone within one- to two days and can be helped by taking Tylenol after the shot is injected.

Residents wanting their vaccination should call 406-683-3203 and leave a message with name and phone number to schedule an appointment for an upcoming clinic.

Current vaccinators include working and retired registered nurses, physicians and pharmacists, Hansen said. Most are volunteering their time. Hansen continues to seek volunteers to broaden the base of vaccinators and provide breaks for current volunteers. Clinic setup generally starts at 9 a.m. and ends between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Volunteers who can provide food and drink for those staffing a clinic are also appreciated, she said. Volunteers who would like to help can call 406-683-4771 to get details.

Updates on vaccination clinics can be found on the public health’s Facebook page.