Around 2,000 Canadian truck drivers will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in Montana starting on May 10 thanks to a deal brokered between Montana and its northern neighbor Alberta, according to a news release put out by Gov. Greg Gianfrote’s office.
Gianforte and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the deal is essential to keeping trade channels open.
“We’re doing everything we can to get a vaccine into Albertans’ arms as fast as possible, including by forging this innovative agreement with Montana,” Kenney said. “We are deeply grateful to Montana Governor Gianforte and the U.S. government for their generous donation of vaccines to protect our truckers. Alberta depends on trade with our American neighbors, and this program will ensure our goods get to market while stopping the spike of COVID-19.”
The program is called the Montana-Alberta-Cross-Border Vaccination Initiative and will be in place for at least six months, with the option to extend it further, according to the Memorandum of Understanding. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and Bozeman-based Best Practice Medicine will work together to staff the vaccination sites and administer vaccines.
Eligible truckers will receive the first dose of the vaccine through the program; it is unclear if Montana will also provide the second. The memorandum did not identify what type of vaccine will be used. The vaccination site will be set up at a rest stop near Conrad and will operate daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. until May 23. Other Montana and U.S.-based truckers are also eligible to receive the vaccine through the program, according to the news release.
As of Friday, 738,970 Montanans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 344,506 are fully immunized, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.
“The pandemic has had devastating consequences, including a severe impact on our economies,” Gianforte said in the release. “By working together and taking this critical action, we keep our trade channels open between Montana and Alberta.”