Montana moves into phase 1B of vaccination plan


    Cropped hand wearing a nitrile glove holding a Covid-19 vaccine vial and a syringe. (Photo by Getty Images.)

    Montana has moved into phase 1B of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, the Governor’s Office announced Tuesday in a news release.

    On his second day in office, Gov. Greg Gianforte revised the state’s vaccination plan for phase 1B to include all Montanans over the age of 70 and people ages 16-69 with underlying health conditions such as cancer, diabetes and others. Phase 1B also includes American Indians and other people of color who may be at elevated risk for COVID-19 complications.

    “Focusing on the most vulnerable Montanans in our vaccine distribution will save lives,” said Gianforte, a Republican, in the release. As of Tuesday, 57,221 doses have been administered in Montana, and 9,408 Montanans have been fully immunized, according to the release.

    The state is also expecting 13,500 first doses of the vaccine coming this week and 20,000 second doses on the way as well, said General Matt Quinn, executive director of Gianforte’s COVID-19 Task Force, during a press conference last week.

    Gianforte signed an executive order last week that lifted the hours of operation and capacity restrictions on restaurants as well as numeric limits on public gatherings. The governor also has plans to rescind the statewide mask mandate once vaccine distribution is expanded and liability legislation is passed to protect business owners from civil lawsuits from related to COVID-19.

    The full list of underlying conditions for Montanans ages 16-69 to receive the vaccine:

    • Cancer
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
    • Down Syndrome
    • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
    • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
    • Severe Obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2)
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Type 1 & 2 Diabetes mellitus
    • On a case by case basis, medical providers may include individuals with other conditions that place them at elevated risk for COVID-19-related complications.