From Chelsea Kleinmeyer, Community Health Division Director
Tribal Health continues to work with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) to advocate for available allocations of COVID-19 vaccinations for our community.
There are limited amounts of vaccines available, so the state plan prioritizes the most vulnerable groups, including American Indians.
We understand that recent formal and informal communications regarding the upcoming Tribal Health COVID-19 vaccination clinics have been a cause for confusion, frustration, and worry among our Tribal community members. Our top priority is the health and well-being of this community, and our goal is to provide as accurate, and up-to-date information as possible during this time.
Last week, Tribal Health announced that there will be a regularly scheduled COVID-19 vaccination clinic, that also included a link to online scheduling software that is being adopted by Tribal Health to help manage and track where and when vaccination clinics are held.
Since that time, CSKT Tribal Health was advised by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) that this state online scheduling application was not working as expected, so Tribal Health removed the ability for patients to schedule appointments online.
In the meantime, Tribal Health Community Health staff are continuing to schedule vaccination appointments for those patients in the prioritized groups which include Tribal Elders aged 70+, and those with high-risk medical conditions.
Additionally, the state allocation of vaccination doses is less than initially planned for, so Tribal Health is revising the hours and days of the COVID-19 vaccination clinics until there are more doses of the vaccine delivered to Tribal Health. We continue to work on a regular schedule for the upcoming vaccination clinics, to be announced as soon as possible.
Currently, Tribal Health patients, who are part of the prioritized groups (including Tribal Elders aged 70+, and those with high-risk medical conditions) can call Tribal Health at 406-745-3525, to provide their name and phone number. A Community Health staff scheduler will then call each patient to schedule an appointment time for each patient to get vaccinated.
Upon arrival to your appointment, each patient will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19. Each patient will also receive information about the vaccine, and a card that has the date to receive the second dose of the vaccine, which is approximately 28 days after the first dose. After receiving the vaccine, patients will be asked to stay for an additional 15-30 minutes for post-vaccination monitoring.
As always, this planning is subject to change, according to availability of the vaccines.
Additionally, to help answer questions from the community about the COVID-19 vaccine plan for Tribal Health, a Facebook Live symposium will take place at 3pm on Friday, February 5, 2021.
During the Tribal Health COVID-19 Vaccine Symposium, Tribal Health providers, including Medical and Behavioral Health staff, will be on hand to present information about the vaccination planning and to answer questions from the community.
Tribal Health providers encourage everyone to get vaccinated because it is a key step in saving lives and ending the pandemic. We recognize this is a personal decision, though, and that many people have questions about the vaccine.
Below you will find some educational resources to help you learn more:
The full benefits of immunity are not reached until two weeks after the second dose of the vaccine, so as cases of COVID continue to rise, Tribal Health reminds everyone that it is critical now to physically distance, wear a mask and wash your hands. Also, minimize gatherings, potlucks and delay travel if possible.
A draft of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan can be found here.