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State says no disruption to planned vaccine shipments

State says no disruption to planned vaccine shipments

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VA Vaccine Clinic

Darrell Beckstrom, right, receives a COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic for veterans at the Montana VA on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.

After reporting Friday that the country's vaccine stockpile did not exist, Montana's health department said the state's expected upcoming allocation has not changed.

"We continue to receive correspondence from our federal partners. Vaccine is allocated to Montana on a week-by-week basis. There’s been no indication that our vaccine supply has been changed for next week’s allocation," said Jon Ebelt, a spokesperson for the state Department of Public Health and Human Services, in an email late Friday.

The Washington Post reported earlier Friday that after the U.S. Department of Health and Human services said the federal government would push out the second dose of vaccinations it had been holding back, those doses weren't available.

But Montana's planned shipments haven't changed, Ebelt said.

"Montana has not experienced an interruption in receiving vaccines. We are getting them to communities as quickly as possible, and will continue to move into Phase 1B, providing the vaccine to the most vulnerable Montanans, next week," Ebelt said.

Last week, Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte changed the groups of people included in Phase 1B to include those age 70 and older and those age 16-69 with specific pre-existing health conditions. The phase also includes Native Americans and other people of color. Gianforte moved essential workers and others who don't have specific health conditions to the next phase, 1C.

For those included in Phase 1B, Montana's Maj. Gen. Matt Quinn, who heads Gianforte's COVID-19 task force, said in a press conference this week that people should look to their local public health office and doctor for guidance about how to get the vaccine and information about qualifying to be vaccinated based on health conditions. Roughly 11 counties are about to enter that phase, Gianforte said earlier in the week.

More than 51,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to Montanans, Ebelt said. That number includes first and second doses.

Next week the state expects to receive 13,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, in addition to 20,000 second doses for people who have already received their first shot.

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State Bureau reporter for Lee Newspapers of Montana.

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