Welcome to the first edition of a weekly, COVID-19-specific campus update. Every Thursday, we will send an update with any new information, as well as some reminders. This will be the weekly source for COVID-19 information. Supervisors of University employees who, because of the nature of their work are not frequently accessing email, should consider posting this weekly update or printing a copy to provide as necessary. Our goal is to ensure all University students and employees have timely access to these updates.
Before we get to the update, we want to acknowledge the continued hard work, teamwork and dedication with which the UM family has faced this semester so far. With case numbers low and availability of the COVID-19 vaccine increasing, there is reason for optimism. Despite this, we have many more weeks before the end of the semester and much more to do before novel coronavirus is less prominent in our planning and day-to-day activities. Please continue to take care of yourself and extend patience and grace to others who also are navigating these challenging times.
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Continues in Missoula County
Missoula County residents in Phase 1A and Tier 1 of Phase 1B currently are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Missoula County Health Board established Tier 1 within Phase 1B to prioritize individuals ages 70 and older and American Indians and people of color ages 16 and older, as they may be at an elevated risk for COVID-19. Both the statewide vaccination phases and the Missoula County tiered plan are listed on the county’s vaccine information website.
Where to Receive the Vaccine
Missoula County will have more than 25 providers to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. The county vaccine information website contains a table of current active providers who can receive vaccine at that location and how to make an appointment. This information changes constantly. Please bookmark the county site and visit frequently if you are currently seeking a COVID-19 vaccine and are eligible in the current distribution phase.
The Current COVID-19 Vaccine is a Two-Dose Series
Depending on the type of vaccine you receive (Moderna and Pfizer are the two currently available), you’ll need to receive a second dose 21 or 28 days after the first. Many clinics will pre-schedule you to return, but make sure you inquire about the second dose if information isn’t provided.
Additionally, here is a brief FAQ regarding vaccine distribution:
Q: When will the county move to the larger Phase 1B/Phase 1C?
A: Much of that depends on the availability of vaccines in Missoula County. It’s estimated that up to 40,000 individuals in Missoula County are in Phase 1B.
Q: Will the University coordinate vaccination for all University students and employees?
A: Due to the limited available of vaccines, the University is not able to coordinate vaccination for all students and employees. We will share information and vaccine resources in this weekly update. Missoula City-County leadership has an incident management team, an interactive website and a network of vaccine providers. Working together, all individuals who seek a COVID-19 vaccine will have the opportunity (by phase) to receive it at a number of provider sites throughout Missoula County.
Q: Can I receive a COVID-19 vaccine at UM's employee WellCheck event?
A: There are currently no plans for It Starts With Me to administer COVID-19 vaccines at employee WellCheck events.
Q: Why can’t I just walk over to Curry Health Center and get my COVID-19 vaccine like I get my flu shot?
A: There are many differences between administering the COVID-19 vaccine and administering flu shots. Specifically:
The COVID-19 vaccine is a two-dose series, and due to storage, preparation and handling requirements, each vaccine clinic requires careful, precise planning.
Vaccinations are being administered in state-directed phases.
The COVID-19 vaccine requires 15 minute on-site monitoring for adverse reactions.
Currently, all vaccine clinics require strict social distancing, masks and mitigation protocols consistent with any event. This adds another layer of coordination for vaccine administration.
The UM Health Services Pharmacy (inside Curry Health Center) is part of a network of providers working collaboratively with Missoula County to administer COVID-19 vaccinations. The Missoula County Office of Emergency Management and Missoula City-County Health Department have the authority over all aspects of vaccine distribution within Missoula County. While you may be able to get the vaccine on campus (especially with the larger events in the Adams Center), you may also find vaccine availability at a different site.