On Tuesday, the Montana Department of Corrections (DOC) immunized 110 Montana State Prison (MSP) inmates who were eligible in Phase 1B of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.
“It’s critical to get shots into the arms of Montana’s most vulnerable populations, and many of those Montanans are located in our prison system,” said DOC Director Brian Gootkin. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to help the folks most at risk in our secure facilities with this first batch of vaccinations at the Montana State Prison.”
The Moderna vaccinations the DOC received were allocated to MSP, and the department is working closely with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) to coordinate vaccine distribution to other DOC secure facilities. Montana’s COVID-19 vaccine supply continues to be dependent on federal supply and allocations.
“We are thrilled that we were able to begin the vaccination process for inmates at Montana State Prison,” said DOC Clinical Services Division Bureau Chief Cindy Hiner. “It was a smooth process and we look forward to working with DPHHS and the state to continue vaccinating the DOC’s inmates.”
Over the past several weeks, the DOC’s Clinical Services team educated and evaluated MSP inmates who qualified for Phase 1B. Staff members shared educational materials with inmates and had meetings with those who were interested in receiving the vaccine. The 1B criteria includes American Indians and other people of color who may be at elevated risk for COVID-19 complications, offenders over the age of 70, and those with chronic medical conditions.
All other inmates or individuals in congregate care will be eligible for the vaccine in group 1C.
On Feb. 9, DPHHS was notified the state will receive 16, 425 first doses and 13, 525 second doses that would be distributed to local jurisdictions the week of February 15. As of Feb 10, the state’s COVID response map showed 149, 263 total doses had been administered in Montana. In addition, Governor Greg Gianforte received federal approval to redirect 19,500 unused Pfizer doses to vulnerable Montanans last week.
The governor has asked the federal government for additional doses.