By Mira Brody EBS STAFF
BOZEMAN – In the Gallatin County Fairgrounds Exhibit 4 building in Bozeman, about a dozen frontline workers sit quietly in chairs spaced generously apart. This is the makeshift waiting room where those who receive the COVID-19 vaccine are required to sit for 15 minutes before scheduling their second dose, then exiting.
The fairgrounds will serve as a POD, or Point of Dispensing, for Gallatin County for as long as necessary as the vaccine moves through the varying phases of distribution. By the end of the day on Jan. 6, the county hopes to distribute 800-1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and are waiting for another shipment of doses next week. Right now the Gallatin City-County Health Department is currently working with county health officials to distribute doses to frontline healthcare workers outside of the Bozeman Health Network, including county clinics, long-term care facilities, and home health agencies as well as school nurses.
“It’s not bad at all,” said Brian Nickolay, Hyalite Rural Fire District’s assistant fire chief, who received the vaccine on Jan. 6. “Overall, I mean, it’s good to be a fan of moving forward and hopefully getting us back to normal [to] get out and do the things they enjoy.”
Those eligible to receive a vaccine dose are contacted by the county and if they choose can then sign up for an appointment. They walk into the vaccine room, where eight stations are spread out with a nurse at each station, receive their shot, then move into the separate waiting room where they sit for 15 minutes to ensure they don’t experience immediate adverse reactions to the vaccine. After they are cleared to leave, patients schedule their next shot appointment, 28 days out from the first.
“We keep telling the community this is not a quick process, that it’s going to take a long time before we have enough vaccination supplies that’ll arrive in our county for everyone who wants a shot here in our community,” said Patrick Lonergan, chief of emergency management and fire for Gallatin County. “We also anticipate this will not be the only location that people will be able to get vaccinated.”
As vaccine availability increases and the county moves through the different phases of distribution, eventually to the general public, Lonergan says they hope to have it available in additional locations including local health clinics and pharmacies.