More than 1,700 COVID vaccine appointments in Yellowstone County remain open this week. County health officials say the demand for COVID-19 vaccines is falling.
Riverstone Health CEO and Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton says the county received permission to open vaccines to everyone 16 and older a week ahead of the state, but since then the county has struggled to fill all of its appointments.
Felton thinks part of the reason demand has fallen is because case counts are down in Montana, but he also says there are populations that are vaccine-hesitant.
"I think one of the groups that we're concerned about, in addition to those that are politically vaccine-resistant, are our younger population."
Felton says those 20 to 39 years old account for about 40 percent of Yellowstone County’s active COVID cases.
Felton is concerned that Montana could follow other states currently seeing a surge in COVID cases. He says it’s increasingly important that county residents get vaccinated. Currently, a little over 19 percent Yellowstone County’s population is fully immunized. Felton says Riverstone's goal is to vaccinate 75 percent of county residents.
Felton says Riverstone is focusing its messaging about the safe and effective COVID vaccines on social media, in local media outlets and is reaching out to churches and businesses to help spread the word.