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Montana counties are preparing to administer COVID boosters to at-risk groups

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Counties across Montana are gearing up to offer Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine boosters after the shots got federal approval.

A handful of counties have announced on social media that they will start offering the booster shots. Among them are Missoula, Park and Yellowstone counties.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backed the Food and Drug Administration’s authorization of the additional shots. The Pfizer booster was already approved.

The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson shots are available for people 65 and older, people 18 and older in long-term care settings and people 50 to 64 with underlying medical conditions. People 18 to 49 years old with certain medical conditions and people 18 to 64 who work or live in settings that are considered high risk for contracting the disease can also get the booster.

RiverStone Health in Billings will hold a free walk-in vaccination clinic from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Billings Public Library.

Six months need to have passed since the second dose for Pfizer and Moderna booster shots. People who receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine must wait two months since the first dose to get a booster.

RiverStone is also offering third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to people with compromised immune systems.

Another walk-in clinic is scheduled for Nov. 4.

The Gallatin County Health Department and Bozeman Health are partnering to offer booster shots beginning next week. Appointments can be made through the county health department’s website.

As of Friday, the state’s health department reported 54% of eligible Montanans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Health officials say getting vaccinated is the best long-term solution to the pandemic.