County Vaccination, Moderna Vaccine

Healthcare workers prepare doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 6 at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds.

Support Local Journalism


Subscribe


Immunocompromised Montanans are now encouraged to receive a third booster shot of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, Montana health officials said this week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed an additional dose on Friday for those who have moderately or severely compromised immune systems as the highly contagious delta variant spreads across the U.S.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services said Wednesday that an estimated 22,000 Montanans are eligible for the third dose.

“People with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 because they are at higher risk of serious, prolonged illness,” said Dr. Maggie Cook-Shimanek, the acting state medical officer, in a news release. “An additional dose could help prevent serious and possibly life-threatening COVID-19 infection in immunocompromised people.”

The state’s OK comes in tow with a federal announcement Wednesday that all vaccinated individuals who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine should get a third booster shot as the vaccines’ efficacy wanes over time. People should received a booster shot about eight months after being fully vaccinated. Administration of those booster shots could begin toward the end of September.

Those with compromised immune systems can receive the additional shot at least four weeks after they’ve received a second dose of the vaccine.

A list of vaccine clinics and providers in Gallatin County can be found at healthygallatin.org. Those who received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine are not eligible for an additional shot.

Emerging data suggests that the immunocompromised don’t build the same level of immunity against COVID-19, or its variants, as people who are not immunocompromised, according to the CDC.

Data found that 40% to 44% of the hospitalized breakthrough cases, where a fully vaccinated individual gets infected with COVID-19, were immunocompromised people.

About 3% of Montana’s overall population is immunocompromised and in need of a third dose, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

DPHHS said there is sufficient supply of vaccine available in the state to provide these additional doses and to others who are unvaccinated.

As of Sunday, 67% of the eligible population in Gallatin County has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Overall, 49% of Montanans have been fully vaccinated.

Hospitals have begun to fill up with COVID-19 patients across the state, according to a recent report from the DPHHS.

Two of the state’s 10 largest hospitals, Benefis Hospital in Great Falls and St. Vincent Health Care in Billings, reported having more than 90% of their hospital beds filled.

Bozeman Health had between 70% and 90% of its beds occupied.

Hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases have continued to climb in the county and in the state. As of Wednesday, Gallatin County had 162 active cases, and 10 active hospitalizations. To date, 63 county residents have died of complications related to COVID-19.

The county continues to see “high” transmission rates, according to the CDC, and mask use in indoor public spaces is recommended by the county for everyone regardless of vaccination status.

Over the past week, the county has a seen 152 cases per 100,000 resident, a 19% increase from the same time last week, according to the CDC.

Montana had 3,067 active cases and 203 people were hospitalized as of Wednesday. In total, 1,749 Montanans have died due to complications related to COVID-19.

Support Local Journalism

To see what else is happening in Gallatin County subscribe to the online paper.

Juliana Sukut can be reached at 582-2630 or jsukut@dailychronicle.com