Many are talking about the COVID-19 vaccine and asking how close we are to receiving it here locally. 
 
Currently, Tribal Health staff are working closely with the State of Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) regarding vaccination availability, prioritization and schedules. We wanted to give the community an update. 
 
Are there any approved vaccines?
Currently, there are 2 vaccines that are front runners for approval. This week, we are likely to hear if Pfizer gets approved under Emergency Use Approval (EUA). 
 
Is the vaccine safe?
Yes, the vaccine process underwent the same procedure for any new vaccine. There are three phases:
 
  • Phase I, a small group of healthy people, around 20-100, will receive the vaccine primarily to test its safety. 
  • Phase II, a few hundred people receive the vaccine to primarily test its effectiveness. These people are more representative of the people most vulnerable to Covid-19. 
  • Phase III, vaccines are tested on thousands of people from the general population to further test safety and effectiveness and to look for reactions.
 
When will a vaccine come to our community?
The Pfizer vaccine will likely be the first to arrive to the state and will likely go out to the bigger hospitals first. Moderna is the second vaccine and can be shipped in smaller shipments. We could see a combination of these 2 vaccines at Tribal Health. Vaccines are anticipated to arrive mid to late December.
 
What is the availability of vaccines?
Initially, there will be a limited amount of vaccines available, and this is why the state plan prioritizes the most vulnerable groups that should be vaccinated immediately. Tribal Health will continue to advocate for vaccines for the Tribal Health population as more and more vaccination doses become available.
 
How is this different from other vaccines?
COVID-19 vaccines will require 2 doses. Depending on which one is given, people will need the second shot 21 or 28 days apart. 
 
How is Tribal Health receiving the vaccination?
Tribal Health has been planning with the state of Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) to receive our shipment of vaccine. A draft of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan can be found here. This is our normal chain of command for receiving vaccinations and will allow for collaboration with Lake County Public Health. 
 
Is there going to be enough vaccine for everyone?
Eventually. The first wave of immunizations will be offered to healthcare workers and those that live in long term care facilities. It is anticipated that we will receive large enough numbers to vaccinate the next tier in the Spring with widespread availability in the summer. 
 
Who will be prioritized for vaccinations?
In the Montana COVID-19 vaccination plan, populations of focus for initial COVID-19 vaccination will likely fall into four categories: 
 
1. Critical infrastructure workforce (includes Healthcare Personnel (HCP) 
  • Healthcare personnel (i.e., paid and unpaid personnel working in healthcare settings, which may include vaccinators, pharmacy staff, ancillary staff, school nurses, and EMS personnel)
  • Other essential workers
 
 
2. People at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness 
 
  • Long Term Care Facilities (LTCF) residents (i.e., nursing home, assisted living, independent living facility residents) 
  • People with risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness (see 
  • People 65 years of age and older 
 
 
3. People at increased risk of acquiring or transmitting Covid-19 
 
  • People from racial and ethnic minority groups 
  • People from tribal communities 
  • People who are incarcerated/detained in correctional facilities 
  • People experiencing homelessness/living in shelters 
  • People attending colleges/universities 
  • People who work in educational settings (e.g., early learning centers, schools, and colleges/universities) 
  • People living and working in other congregate settings 
 
 
4. People with limited access to routine vaccination services 
  • People living in rural communities 
  • People with disabilities 
  • People who are under- or uninsured 
 
 
What can I do to protect myself and my family right now?
As our numbers continue to rise, Tribal Health would also like to remind everyone that it is just as important to get your influenza shot. We are looking to vaccinate as a way to reduce spread of flu that also is a respiratory illness and that lands our vulnerable populations in the hospital. It’s just as important now as it was earlier to physically distance, wear your mask and wash your hands. Also, minimize gatherings, potlucks and delay travel if possible. 

Cases of positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the Tribal community, and the region.

 

To help stop the spread of the virus, Tribal Health staff are doing contact tracing and investigations of each positive case of COVID-19 within the Tribal Health patient group.  

 

Contact tracing is when public health and/or community health nurses try to find out any additional people who may have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

 

People are considered exposed to the virus, when they have been less than 6 feet from an infected person, for longer than 15 minutes.

 

Individuals who are at risk of catching the virus due to this exposure, are then called by the nurses on the phone.  This process of figuring out who may have been exposed, asking them to quarantine, and assessing them for symptoms is called contact tracing.  

 

The contact tracing investigations and notification process is taking Tribal Health approximately 24-48 hours.

 

At Tribal Health, Community Health nurses are leading the contact tracing work, in cooperation with Lake County Public Health nurses.

 

If you are called by a nurse as part of contact tracing, you will be provided with the following information:

 

  • Date of potential exposure
  • How long you should quarantine
  • What symptoms to watch for
  • When to test for the virus (usually 5-7 days from known exposure date)
  • Where to go for testing

 

Please note, due to HIPAA rules on privacy, nurses cannot identify individuals who are already infected with the virus.

 

Tribal Health will continue to provide COVID-19 testing to the public when possible.  Though if someone develops symptoms, they should call their primary health care provider immediately to get more directions.

 

Currently public COVID-19 testing is also available at the following sites.  As always during this pandemic, no walk-ins are offered right now.  Please call ahead for more directions.

 

  • St. Lukes Hospital

107 6th Ave SW

Ronan, MT  59864

Phone (406) 676-4441

 

  • Providence St. Joseph Medical Center

6 Thirteen Avenue East

Polson, MT 59860 

Phone (406) 883-5680

 

More resources

 

Tribal Health website

cskthealth.org

 

Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) site:  

https://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/cdepi/diseases/coronavirusmt/demographics

 

Lake County - CSKT Unified Command Center:

https://www.ucc-jic.com

 

Lake County Public Health Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/Lake-County-Public-Health-Montana-346387957374/

 

Lake County Public Health website:

https://lakecountypublichealth.org

The Polson Health Center is closed today, September 29, 2020 with limited services only, including Pharmacy Curbside Service from 2:00PM to 5:00PM.
 
The Polson Health Center will reopen with normal business hours tomorrow, September 30, 2020.
 
Due to a confirmed positive COVID-19 test of an employee, the Tribal Health Polson Health Center is enacting COVID protocols, and closing immediately for deep cleaning and sanitation.
 
The closure begins September 29, 2020.  
 
Community Health Nurses have been in contact with the patient and the patient's family to identify individuals who were at risk for potential exposure. Individuals identified as close contacts have been notified by Community Health.  
 
Tribal Health encourages any community members who have questions about COVID-19 to call or email the following COVID-19 Hotlines:
 
CALL: 406-849-5798 
Monday - Friday 8:00am - 4:30pm 
 
or 
 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
 
We will respond within 24 hours We can answer questions about the COVID-19 (coronavirus). We can also connect you to other resources of the CSKT and valley. For more information about the Tribal Health response to COVID-19 go to www.cskthealth.org
 
Due to a confirmed positive COVID-19 test of an employee, the Tribal Health Polson Health Center is enacting COVID protocols, and closing immediately for deep cleaning and sanitation.
 
The closure begins September 29, 2020.  
 
Community Health Nurses have been in contact with the patient and the patient's family to identify individuals who were at risk for potential exposure. Individuals identified as close contacts have been notified by Community Health.  
 
Tribal Health encourages any community members who have questions about COVID-19 to call or email the following COVID-19 Hotlines:
 
CALL: 406-849-5798 
Monday - Friday 8:00am - 4:30pm 
 
or 
 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
 
We will respond within 24 hours We can answer questions about the COVID-19 (coronavirus). We can also connect you to other resources of the CSKT and valley. For more information about the Tribal Health response to COVID-19 go to www.cskthealth.org
 
Go to top