Montana Public Radio

Judy Hayman

A VA nurse gives one of 400 veterans their COVID-19 vaccine at the Flathead County Fairgrounds Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2021.
Aaron Bolton

The Veterans Administration’s handling of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout took center stage at two separate events this week, one in Montana the other on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs held a hearing Wednesday to update Congress on the massive effort to vaccinate the nation’s veterans

To Vaccinate Veterans, Health Care Workers Must Cross Mountains, Plains And Tundra

Feb 22, 2021
A vaccination team bound for Havre, Montana, loads supplies for the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine into a Learjet 31 at Helena Regional Airport. Also on board were six Veterans Affairs providers tasked with inoculating rural veterans with the covid-19 vaccine.
David Hicks / Kaiser Health News

A Learjet 31 took off before daybreak from Helena Regional Airport in Montana, carrying six Veterans Affairs medical providers and 250 doses of historic cargo cradled in a plug-in cooler designed to minimize breakage.

Even in a state where 80-mph speed limits are normal, ground transportation across long distances is risky for the Moderna mRNA-1273 vaccine, which must be used within 12 hours of thawing.

Former Army Tank Mechanic Robert Boore, 77, gets his COVID-19 vaccine at the VA’s mass vaccination clinic in Kalispell February 3, 2021. The VA vaccinated 400 veterans 75 years old and up, as well as those with select underlying health conditions.
Aaron Bolton / Montana Public Radio

Four hundred veterans got COVID-19 vaccine doses last week in Kalispell. The Montana VA Health Care System is standing up temporary clinics to get shots to vets in rural areas. But amid the nationwide vaccine shortage, some vets are confused about the process and are looking outside of the VA to get a shot.

The Montana Veterans Health Care System is offering free COVID-19 testing to veterans. In a press release, the agency said Montana Veterans enrolled in the Veterans Affairs Health Care System can get testing at thirteen locations across the state over the next two weeks.