HELENA — Canadian truckers, First Nations peoples, and others are receiving COVID-19 vaccinations through efforts in Montana.
Governor Greg Gianforte announced on Friday that Montana and the province of Alberta have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide vaccines to Albertan truck drivers in Montana.
“The pandemic has had devastating consequences, including a severe impact on our economies,” Gianforte said. “By working together and taking this critical action, we keep our trade channels open between Montana and Alberta.”
The agreement will provide the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines to Alberta commercial truck drivers who are regulated to transport goods into the United States. An estimated 2,000 Alberta truck drivers are eligible to be vaccinated under the program.
“We’re doing everything we can to get a vaccine into Albertans’ arms as fast as possible, including by forging this innovative agreement with Montana,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said. “We are deeply grateful to Montana Governor Gianforte and the U.S. government for their generous donation of vaccines to protect our truckers. Alberta depends on trade with our American neighbours and this program will ensure our goods get to market while stopping the spike of COVID-19.”
Montana will begin providing free vaccines to truckers entering and exiting the state on May 10 at a rest stop near Conrad. The service is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily until May 23. Montana and other U.S.-based truckers are also eligible to get the vaccine. Electronic signage on I-15 will offer guidance to truckers on where to go. Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services is working with Best Practice Medicine, a clinical staffing deployment vendor, to administer the vaccines.
The Blackfeet Nation, who have reported some of the highest vaccination rates in the nation, has been using their extra doses in recent weeks to vaccinate Canadian First Nations individuals and others at Piegan-Carway border crossing.
Canada has fallen well behind the United State in COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The Blackfeet doses have helped vaccinate more than 1,000 Canadians.