This reporter was in Southgate Mall earlier in the week and while enjoying some Hoagieville chicken strips and Hoagie fries, a nurse tapped me on the shoulder and asked, ‘Pardon me, sir, but would you like to be vaccinated this evening’?

After recovering from my surprised reaction, I told her that I was actually scheduled to receive my second COVID vaccination the next morning, to which she replied, ‘thank you’, and went to the next table.

Following that exchange, I contacted Nick Holloway the Public Information Officer for the COVID 19 Vaccination Team for an update on the mass vaccination clinics in Missoula, to see if this exchange was out of the ordinary.

“We are getting the vaccine out to folks and the clinics are filling up pretty nicely,” said Holloway. “Occasionally though, there are people that cancel or don't show up for appointments and in an effort to make sure that we don't waste any vaccine we do try and fill all the spots even if they're cancelled or no shows.”

Holloway described how the vaccines are prepared for distribution before each clinic.

“They typically fill the vials up one or two at a time, so each vial contains up to about 11 shots,” he said. “So hopefully we're never at the point where we have too much left over. We will never waste any vaccine. So your experience in the mall with somebody asking you if you wanted to get vaccinated was just an effort to make sure that all the vaccine got used that was open.”

Holloway said with the change this past Sunday opening up the vaccine to anyone over 16, applications are increasing.

“There’s sort of an ebb and flow to demand as we go from one phase to another,” he said. “We just started the new phase where everybody 16 and over in Montana, and of course in Missoula County is eligible, so we saw a big spike in calls and signups scheduling appointments when that occurred, but it typically backs down after an initial bump, but we're still in that initial bump.”

Holloway said the vaccination team is pushing hard to get to that 75 percent vaccination rate.

“We're pushing forward and we really want to get to that goal of 75% of Missoula County residents vaccinated so we can move back to a place of normalcy and prevent more unneeded illness and death, and give the boost to our economy that comes with herd immunity.”

Get more details on vaccine clinics and availability by clicking this website, or by calling 258-INFO (4636).

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