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Shot of relief: UM vaccine clinic draws crowd
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Shot of relief: UM vaccine clinic draws crowd

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The University of Montana was able to coordinate a little more than 400 people to get vaccinated Sunday at the Adams Center.

“I’m absolutely happy as hell,” said 73- year-old Brent Greenwell who was one of the last people to receive the Pfizer vaccine at the event.

Greenwell sported a tan cowboy hat and carried an oxygen tank with him for his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, an inflammatory lung condition that makes it hard to breathe. After his booster shot in three weeks, Greenwell said he is excited for the possibility of seeing his family again, whom he hasn’t seen for almost a year.

“They’re scared to death to kick the old man,” Greenwell said. “Getting COVID, it would have been a death nail for me because of the COPD.”

The Missoula COVID-19 Coordination Team partnered with the University of Montana to hold the public vaccination clinic. People in Phase 1A and the tier one of Phase 1B qualified for the event. This included people older than 70 and American Indians and other persons of color who may be at elevated risk for COVID-19 complications. The event did not include people 16-69 with serious health conditions.

UM's Curry Health Center Pharmacy Manager Ken Chatriand said the campus got the first shipment of the Moderna vaccine on Jan. 1. Those went to its nurses and healthcare employees doing swab testing for COVID-19. The vaccines being given out Sunday were Pfizer’s version. UM is trying to give the vaccines to everyone who qualifies as quickly as they can, Chatriand said. The hope is to scale up vaccination events, he said.

“The vaccines do no good in an ultra-freezer,” Chatriand said.

Staff and students with the UM's Health Services Pharmacy administered the vaccinations. The shots did not cost anything, though people with insurance were asked to bring their cards so an administration fee could be charged to their insurers. Those charges were not anticipated to result in an out-of-pocket cost for the patients.

The event was handled exceptionally well, Greenwell said.

Another recipient of the vaccine was 88-year-old Marv Reynolds. Since the pandemic began he’s tried to stay inside and find good TV shows to watch, Reynolds said. Getting vaccinated was a good feeling, he said.

“Nothing to it,” Reynolds said.

Mark and Mary Nicholls, both 70, also got vaccinated at the clinic. The couple’s been together for 55 years. The two found out about the event through their daughter, who posted about it on Instagram. 

“I shed a tear,” Mary Nicholls said about the moment, adding she felt incredibly grateful.

They both felt good afterward and didn’t report any side effects. The two were excited to hopefully visit with their grandchildren more after the booster in three weeks.

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