Wednesday, April 14, 2021
55.0°F

Montana teachers eligible for shots starting next week

by KIANNA GARDNER
Daily Inter Lake | March 5, 2021 3:43 PM

Beginning next week, school teachers and staff in pre-K through 12th-grade classrooms and childcare programs can receive their COVID-19 vaccine at select pharmacies throughout the state.

Officials with the Montana Federation of Public Employees said in a news release that vaccines will be available through entities including Albertsons Companies, Walgreens, Walmart, Topco Associates and LeaderNET and Medicine Shoppe.

Pharmacy employees at Albertsons, Walgreens and Walmart locations in Kalispell confirmed Friday they will begin vaccinating educators next week, though they did not say how many doses they will receive.

Those looking to be vaccinated can go to www.vaccinefinder.org to locate available vaccines and schedule an appointment. As of Friday afternoon, the website showed vaccines are in stock at three pharmacies within a 25-mile radius of Kalispell, though there are at least eight locations that can administer shots as they become available. The website states shot availability is subject to change and encourages individuals to check back regularly.

Vaccines for educators are being offered through the federal government’s Retail Pharmacy Program, which was announced by President Joe Biden earlier this week shortly after he introduced a new directive urging states to prioritize the vaccination of teachers. He said all qualifying school staff should receive at least one shot by the of March.

MEANWHILE, MONTANA is utilizing its allotment of doses to vaccinate individuals that qualify under Phase 1B of Gov. Greg Gianforte’s vaccination plan, a phase that will expand Monday to include Montanans 60 and older and others with additional qualification medical conditions including liver disease, cystic fibrosis and asthma.

Teachers and other school staff were not included in that expansion. Under the governor’s current plan, they won’t qualify for shots until Phase 1C, which is expected to begin in late spring or early summer.

State data shows nearly 300,000 doses have been administered to Montanans since vaccination efforts began in December, including more than 18,000 in Flathead County.

A total of 105,977 individuals in Montana are fully immunized — a number that, for the first time since the pandemic began, has surpassed the number of Montanans that have tested positive for the virus since last March.

Reporter Kianna Gardner can be reached at 758-4407 or kgardner@dailyinterlake.com