Governor Gret Gianforte  announced on Tuesday that Montana will enter Phase 1B+ of the state's vaccine distribution plan. It is scheduled to start on March 8, 2021, in an effort to protect those most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

In Phase 1B+, COVID-19 vaccines will be available to Montanans 60 years of age and older and Montanans 16 to 59 years of age with additional qualifying medical conditions like asthma, cystic fibrosis, and liver disease.

In a news release, Governor Gianforte said, “With this expansion, we are prioritizing the population groups that account for nearly 90 percent of Montana’s total deaths and more than 70 percent of Montana’s hospitalizations during this pandemic. Through this thoughtful, data-driven, commonsense approach, we will continue to minimize hospitalizations and deaths from this virus.” 

 The Governor added, “Montanans have been remarkably patient as we await more supply from the federal government. My priority remains ensuring that every Montanan who wants the vaccine, can get the vaccine. We won’t stop working until that’s accomplished.”

According to the Department of Public Health & Human Services (DPHHS), Montanans 60 years and older account for nearly 90% of COVID deaths in the state and 72% of the hospitalizations.

Phase 1B, which Montana began on January 19, made vaccines available to populations that accounted for approximately 75 percent of deaths and 50 percent of hospitalizations from COVID-19.

The governor's office says that 260,705 doses have been administered in Montana to date, with more than 200,000 doses administered since launching Phase 1B.

Individuals in Phase 1B+ are encouraged to visit to find information regarding COVID-19 vaccine availability and scheduling in their area.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.

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