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On-Site Clinics at Familiar Places Draw People to Get Vaccinated

Three vials containing the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Jess Sheldahl
Yellowstone Public Radio
Vials containing the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. All three were available at the church vaccination clinic.

As demand for COVID-19 vaccinations in Yellowstone County slows, the county health department is partnering with local churches and businesses for walk-in clinics. YPR News’ Jess Sheldahl went to a clinic at an evangelical church, where congregants and community members got the shot.

Wednesday’s vaccination clinic at Harvest Church had a better turn-out than expected.

"I had no idea because we had to sign up but I don’t think anyone signed up so I thought we’ll just show up and I’d seen some interest. But yeah, I’m glad."

Rachel Woosley coordinates events for the church and says Yellowstone County public health department RiverStone Health reached out to organize the clinic.

"It really was a very simple process and convenient. I think it’s great because the more places you give people to come and get vaccinated the more convenient it is," Woosley says.

As long as people sign up to get vaccinated, RiverStone Health will set up a public, free vaccination clinic at businesses and churches.

"We have seen, like other parts of the country and in Montana, the large centralized clinics not having a lot of people come to them," RiverStone Health spokesperson Barbara Schneeman says. "So what we have done is try to meet people at locations that are more convenient for them. So that really is driving our outreach clinics at local churches and businesses across the county."

According to RiverStone, about 150 people have been vaccinated through 13 on-site clinics. Schneeman says 21 additional clinics are scheduled for the coming months with more being coordinated every day.

"Can I feel funny to not go to work anymore?" Ernie Lopez says he came to the clinic on his lunch break with a coworker. "And we’re working up here in the Heights today so we got a great opportunity to take care of our business now."

Lopez described the experience as painless and after waiting 15 minutes to make sure he didn’t have any side effects, he headed back to his job site.

"And then go work the arm out. And then we come back in a couple of weeks and take care of our second vaccination. It was great. It was a great experience. I liked it. I have no problem," Lopez says.

At Harvest Church people had the option to get either the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently approved the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 and older.

15-year-old Hailey Bendell says teens at her school decorate and show off their vaccination cards. After getting the shot she held up the now-familiar rectangular paper and says "yes, it’s gonna be my phone background."

Bendell’s Grandmother Tony, who already got both of her shots, took her granddaughter to the clinic. "Now she’s got bragging rights," Bendell says.

As of Wednesday, 41% of the eligible population in Yellowstone County are fully vaccinated, according to state data. Statewide, 41% of Montanans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

To set up a vaccination clinic you can call RiverStone Health at 406-651-6410 or email CovidOutreach@riverstonehealth.org.