HELENA — Governor Greg Gianforte on Wednesday hosted a news conference to provide an assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination efforts in Montana.
Gianforte began by thanking Montanans for a continual downward trend in COVID cases after a surge at the beginning of 2021 following the winter holidays.
“While we aren’t out of the woods yet, we continue to make progress and our trend lines remain promising,” said Gianforte. “But it’s not just about our positive trend lines as far as new infection and hospitalizations, it’s the positive progress we’re making in getting shots of safe and effective vaccine doses into the arms of Montanans.”
However, Gianforte says Montana isn’t getting the doses it should be and he's not the only elected official that feels that way.
“Montana is receiving one of the lowest per capita allocations of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the country,” wrote U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) to President Joe Biden. “I am concerned that Montana is not receiving its fair share despite the state’s strong record of efficiently distributing shots. I urge you to swiftly provide additional vaccines to Montana to ensure public health officials can get folks vaccinated.”
U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) and U.S. Representative Matt Rosendale (R-MT) sent a joint letter to President Biden that read: “Montanans and Americans across the country need access to the COVID-19 vaccine. It is deeply troubling to learn from recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data that Montana ranks near the bottom in terms of COVID-19 vaccine allocations to states by the federal government.”
As of Monday, February 15, Montana ranked 16th among all states for full vaccinations, with 4.9 percent of the population vaccinated. Yet even with the vaccination progress, the Treasure State ranks 45th among states in terms of vaccines allocated per capita by the federal government.
Gianforte says the current allocation isn’t acceptable, especially considering Montana has the infrastructure to be performing far more vaccinations.
“We can administer half of our weekly allocation of first doses in one day, and we’ve done it,” Gianforte said. “The problem remains, we aren’t getting our fair share of vaccines.”
Following conversations between Gianforte and White House officials on February 12, the Biden administration announced Missoula County has been selected to receive vaccines through the Federally Qualified Health Center COVID vaccine program.
The designation will allow Missoula County to place direct orders with the federal government for COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Gianforte says he is optimistic that the COVID vaccine supply allocated to Montana will increase in the future. The state is also paying close attention to Johnson and Johnson who recently have sought Emergency Use Authorization of their single shot COVID vaccine. They’re expected to receive approval by the end of February.