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Gianforte Gives COVID-19 Vaccine Update

Greg Gianforte speaks at a podium with a poster for his Montana Comeback plan. To his left is a poster showing the trendline of COVID-19 case confirmations, lately trending downward. To his right is a poster that reads, "#1 in vaccine administration" next to the outline of the shape of Montana.
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Gov. Greg Gianforte touts Montana ranking highest in percentage of COVID-19 vaccines used among states, citing an NPR article on Feb. 24, 2021. As of publication Feb. 25, Montana ranks ninth, having administered 82% of shots distributed. Montana's rank in data articles like NPR's has fluctuated sharply throughout the pandemic.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte announced in a press conference Thursday that some pharmacies in the state have started receiving doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to administer to eligible people.

"Twenty-one counties have had doses delivered to pharmacies via this new program. As of today, these pharmacies have received 3,100 doses of vaccinations," he said.

The state health department says the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program began the week of Feb. 8 and involves the following pharmacies: Glacier Pharmacy, Ridgeway Pharmacy, Whitefish Pharmacy, Granite Pharmacy, Osco Pharmacy, Safeway Pharmacy, Town & Country Foods, Big Sandy Pharmacy, Northtown Drug, Corvallis Drug, Bitterroot Drug, Western Drug Pharmacy, Mission Drug, Stillwater Family Pharmacy, Credena Health Pharmacy Lakeshore, Timber Ridge Pharmacy, Thrifty Drug, Clinic Pharmacy.

Since December, Walgreens and CVS have been vaccinating residents and staff at long term care facilities. Gianforte says Walgreens expects to wrap up those vaccinations by mid-March.

When asked if Montana counties were finishing up the current Phase 1B of vaccine distribution, Gov. Gianforte said his team was, “just beginning discussions” on moving into Phase 1C.

"We'll need to make a decision here in the next couple of weeks on how we get to the next tier."

Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have been trending down for Montana as a whole in recent weeks, this week averaging about 190 new cases per day.

The state is reporting nearly 77,000 Montanans have been fully immunized.

Kaitlyn Nicholas covers tribal news in Montana.