Jim Murphy, Administrator of the State DPHHS Public safety Division told KGVO News on Friday that the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program is beginning to expand access to vaccines in Montana.

“The federal program is pushing pharmacies directly some of the COVID vaccine that will be flowing into Montana,” said Murphy. “So right now there are a limited number of pharmacies that have been selected at the federal level to participate in this and they're going to receive a limited number of vaccines. Those vaccines are beginning to roll in this week. Some of them are expected to probably receive these at the beginning of next week given some of the weather delays that have been going on nationally.”

Murphy said the retail pharmacies are also targeting the same vulnerable populations being reached through the various county health departments.

“It’s going to put some vaccines in the hands of these local Montana pharmacies, and they will be following the same guidelines that we're using in other places, reaching out to the most vulnerable people,” he said. “In addition, frontline health care workers that might come into their pharmacies would also be eligible to receive these vaccines.”

The Retail Pharmacy Program is doing a very soft rollout, to make sure that all agencies are working together to get the vaccine into as many arms as possible in the most efficient way.

“The pharmacies that are participating in these programs are being very cautious,” he said. “They will be communicating when they're ready to have customers present. A few of them have pretty sophisticated websites where customers have to sign up for one of the slots available. Again, it's going to be one of those things with a limited vaccine supply, so just like the counties and the hospitals have tried to manage the expectations, these pharmacies are going to be doing a similar process.”

The Federal Retail Pharmacy website states that nationwide, there are several pharmacies that will be participating, including Walgreens, CVS, Wal-Mart and Costco, however, after clicking the Montana tab, the only pharmacies officially listed are Albertsons Companies, LeaderNet and Medicine Shoppe, Cardinal Health’s PSAOS, and Topco Associates, LLC.

Murphy also provided the current vaccination numbers statewide, as of Friday afternoon.

“We update these totals daily,” he said. “Our standing total right now for the number of doses administered is 167,276 doses. That includes about 46,800 Montanans who actually have received their second dose now and are considered fully immunized.”

DPHHS has also launched a new COVID 19 vaccine website landing page, linked here.


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