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CFVH gets first vaccines for county


December 24, 2020

Clark Fork Valley Hospital (CFVH) has received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine, CEO Dr. Gregory Hanson announced Tuesday. The first vaccines will be given to front-line healthcare workers and long term care residents.

Hanson said that CFVH will be working with healthcare local healthcare providers outside of CFVH to incorporate them into the prioritization process of the initial vaccines. At this time, no vaccines are available for the general public or individuals in other high risk categories.

"Like many of you, we look forward to the time when the supply of vaccine will allow us to expand its use into the general pupulation. However, we have no information regarding when that will be," Hanson stated Tuesday. He added that the hospital is not keeping a list of individuals who are requesting to be vaccinated, and CFVH will let the public know when additional vaccines are received for a wider distribution.

The first doses of the coronavirus vaccines were distributed last week by drug makers Pfizer and Moderna. According to CFVH, which received the Moderna vaccine, the first 2.9 million vaccines are being distributed across the nation. The initial distribution for Montana was 4,950 doses and was sent to larger hospitals such as St. Patrick’s Hospital and Community Medical Center in Missoula.

"The distribution of vaccine marks a pivotal point in the effort to control the pandemic, but we must remember the bedrock of our work remains handwashing, mask use, social distancing, and staying home if ill," Dr. Hanson said. "As individuals we will still follow this recommendations even after receiving the vaccine."

The federal government enacted Operation Warp Speed with a goal of delivering 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines, with the first doses available in January 2021. The Pfizer vaccine did not receive support from Operation Warp Speed.

Dr. Ronald Black with CFVH recently presented information on COVID-19. As of December 16, Sanders County recorded 360 cases of coronavirus, with three deaths. Dr. Black shared that up to 70% of patients develop post COVID syndrome, with symptoms including fatigue, chest or joint pain, brain fog, loss of taste and/or smell and sleep issues.

The vaccines require two doses administered three-four weeks apart. Dr. Black said the CDC recommends the vaccine even if a person has had COVID-19 and recovered. The CDC also recommends continuing to wear a mask despite previous infection or immunization. “Immunization is not the end of the pandemic,” Dr. Black said. “It is the tool that should accelerate the end of the pandemic.”

Dr. Black noted that expert estimates for the end of the pandemic range from late summer to fall 2021, assuming widespread vaccination. He said COVID-19 will continue to affect humans similar to influenza, chicken pox or measles.


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