Madison County Public Health Department gets ok to administer COVID 19 vaccine
There is soon to be one more location for Madison County residents to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. Madison County Public Health Director Emilie Sayler announced recently that her department is now authorized to house and administer the vaccine. While there are still some storage logistics to sort out, she hopes to be able to offer COVID-19 vaccines from her office and via home visits very soon.
When COVID-19 vaccines first became available in late 2020 the MCPHD deferred to the county’s health centers, Madison Valley Medical Clinic and Ruby Valley Hospital. Demand was high and the four-person public health office was stretched thin as it managed contract tracing, said Sayler, so at that time it made sense for residents to head to the hospitals for their shots.
Now, despite a rise in cases, Sayler said she felt it was time to offer the vaccine at the health department office in Ennis. A big motivator in that decision was the recent approval of third doses for immunocompromised individuals, said Sayler. She applied via the state vaccine program and was approved quickly.
“This is great news, as we just want to be able to assist our facilities with getting people vaccinated with the third dose,” said Sayler, who is also expecting full approval of booster shot doses in the coming weeks. Those boosters, if approved, will be coming due for many by the end of 2021.
The Moderna vaccine will one option via the health department, but the FDA approved Pfizer vaccine is also being considered. Pfizer is currently the only fully approved COVID-19 vaccine, and is also the only one emergency approved for residents 12 to 16. Storage is a consideration for the Pfizer option, but Sayler said she’s researching ways to offer it without wasting any doses.
Montana’s latest vaccination, COVID-19 numbers
According to Montana State Library’s official dashboard of all things coronavirus, as of Aug. 31, 50% of eligible residents are now fully vaccinated. Madison County’s eligible residents were 43% fully vaccinated.
While vaccination percentages remain steady, COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations and deaths in the state continue to rise. As of the end of August 890 new cases were being reported in the past 24 hours. There were 251 active hospitalizations in Montana, with 5,057 total active cases – up more than 1,000 from the week prior. The death count related to COVID-19 was 1,800, with 13 new deaths recorded in 24 hours.
In Madison County there were 21 active cases as of the 31st. Cumulative cases were 874 for the county and eight residents have died from complications related to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Mobile clinics coming soon
Virginia City is coordinating with Pharm406 and Burnt Tree Brewing to offer the “Get a Brew Not the Flu” vaccine clinic. It will be available in the Virginia City town parking lot on Sep. 10 from noon to 6 p.m., offering flu, TDAP, pneumonia, shingles, and Covid vaccines.
The “Get a Brew Not the Flu” mobile clinic is also being offered in Ennis on Sep. 11 from noon to 6 p.m. at Burnt Tree Brewery. Madison Valley Medical Center and Ruby Valley Medical Center continue to offer vaccines via appointment.
County nursing home update
Madison Valley Manor in Ennis remains in outbreak status following a staff member testing positive for COVID-19 on August 21. Three rounds of testing have found no new cases in staff or residents. Sixty percent of staff are fully vaccinated at the Manor.
In Sheridan, the Tobacco Root Mountain Care Center maintains no cases of COVID-19. Seventy percent of staff are vaccinated at the center.
Staff vaccination and retention has become a concern for nursing home administrators, citing the possibility of a federal mandate that would revoke certain funding for unvaccinated staff. TRMCC Administrator Gail Nelson said she will keep a close eye on the mandate as more information becomes available.