If the federal government clears the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for use on Friday, the Partnership Health Department will dust off its supply and begin offering clinics for the one-shot vaccine.
The Office of Emergency Management also has reduced its vaccine coordination team and is reporting less usage of the non-congregant shelter on West Broadway as the number of Covid cases falls.
“We see a direct relationship with our community case numbers and utilization of the non-congregant shelter,” said Adriane Beck, director of emergency management. “Right now we have very low community cases and similarly, we also have pretty low usage of the shelter. But we’ll continue to provide those services as necessary.”
On Thursday, according to the state, Missoula County had just 55 active Covid cases, down significantly from the New Year when the numbers hung in the hundreds. To date, nearly 9,000 county residents have contracted the virus and 93 have died.
The decrease in activity prompted emergency management to reduce its vaccine coordination team, though a smaller team remains in place. The county launched the team in January to manage the distribution of vaccine, which was new at the time.
“There’s a small contingent continuing to work within our office to make sure there’s no loose ends and coordination can occur as appropriate and necessary to continue vaccination efforts,” Beck said. “But we’re sitting really good. We’re one of the leaders in the state as far as the number of folks we’ve been able to vaccinate, with either a full series or getting started with that one shot.”
State figures suggest that Missoula County has administered more than 92,000 doses of vaccine. Of those, 55,000 represent dose No. 1 while 40,000 have been fully immunized. That equates to roughly 924 doses per 1,000 people in Missoula County.
Beck said the health department also is watching recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration regarding its decision on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The vaccine was placed on a temporary pause in mid-April after six cases of a brain clot were reported among the 7.5 million people who had been inoculated at that time. Federal health authorities are leaning toward resuming the vaccine, according to the Washington Post.
“We’re awaiting news from the FDA and CDC regarding the Johnson & Johnson pause that’s currently occurring,” Beck said. “Partnership Health Center is planning to move forward with Johnson & Johnson if they get the green light from the federal government to do so. They have a pretty good supply and they have some plans to do clinics with that.”