KALISPELL, Mont. - COVID-19 vaccination clinic hours in Flathead County are lengthening to speed up vaccine distribution to residents.

The Flathead City-County Health Department wrote in a release the decision to lengthen clinic hours was based on Governor Greg Gianforte's announcement to open up vaccine availability to all Montanans 16-years-old and older by April 1.

FCCHD wrote they teamed up with Kalispell Regional Healthcare to distribute vaccines by appointment Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8:45am to 4:15pm at the Flathead County Fairgrounds starting April 1.

North Valley Hospital will have vaccine clinics on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

FCCHD said they they will resume vaccinating people 60-years-old and older and people with underlying health conditions as priority once the month of April starts.

“Our next focus will be vaccinating those who are at the highest risk of exposure to the virus, such as educators and food service workers,” Joe Russell, Health Officer of the Flathead City-County Health Department, said in a release. “Moving forward, we will work hard to efficiently vaccinate the Flathead County workforce, providing protection to a highly susceptible population in our community.”

Qualified residents under tiers 1A, 1B and 1B+ can request a vaccination appointment on FCCHD's website. FCCHD said it may take residents several weeks to receive a vaccination appointment scheduling call due to high demand.

FCCHD said the Food and Drug Administration has supplied them with all three emergency authorized vaccines; however, vaccine availability varies. Therefore, waiting times to schedule an appointment may differ depending on if a resident requests a particular vaccine manufacturer.

“The vaccine is a critical public health tool, and we are excited for the opportunity to vaccinate our community,” Russell said in the release. “With that being said, the vaccine administration process is a marathon not a sprint, and we ask the public for their continued patience over the next several months as we work to vaccinate all who are interested.”

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