COVID-19 Vaccine

General information regarding the available COVID-19 vaccines is presented in the slides below. For more information, visit the CDC's website on the COVID-19 vaccine or the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services webpage on the current vaccination plan. This page was last updated on February 19, 2021. Use the grey arrows to the right of the content below to scroll to the next page.

Quick Facts

How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?  

  • The vaccine works with your immune system to teach it how to recognize and fend off the virus that causes COVID-19, safeguarding you from getting sick with COVID-19. As your body recognizes and defends you against the infection after the vaccine, you avoid the possibility of suffering from severe illness, long-term health effects, or even death. Receiving the vaccine can be lifesaving, since COVID-19 can affect you and those around you differently.

Just how safe is the COVID-19 vaccine? 

  • Very! Both of the available vaccines have gone through rigorous studies to ensure safety and efficacy. Neither vaccine contains the live virus that causes COVID-19 - this means that the vaccine can NOT and will NOT make you sick with COVID-19.
  • After you get the vaccine, it takes the body a few weeks to build protection against the virus. This means that a person could get sick just before or just after getting vaccinated. This is because the vaccine hasn't had enough time to teach the body to recognize and fend of the COVID-19 virus. 

The vaccine is an important tool to stop the pandemic.

  • Ending a pandemic requires using ALL the tools we have available. This means that once you are vaccinated, you should continue to avoid crowds, wear masks, social distance, and wash your hands frequently. 
  • Wearing masks and social distancing continue to be important actions to reduce the spread of the virus, however these are not enough on their own. The combination of receiving the vaccine and following the CDC's recommendations will provide the best protection from COVID-19.

For more information, visit the CDC's website on vaccination

Approved Vaccines

There are currently two approved vaccines in the U.S. Introductory information about each vaccine is presented below. Vaccine doses will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers like pharmacies and clinics may be able to charge administration fees for administering the shots. These fees can be reimbursed by providers through a patient's public or private insurance company. In the case of uninsured patients, fees can be reimbursed by the Health Resources and Services Administration's Provider Relief Fund


  • Requires 2 shots - 28 days apart - given in the upper arm
  • Determined to be 94% effective in preventing COVID-19 illness in people without evidence of previous infection


  • Requires 2 shots - 21 days apart - given in the upper arm
  • Determined to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 illness in people without evidence of previous infection

Most Common Side Effects of Both Vaccines

In the arm where the shot was given

Throughout the rest of the body








These side effects usually begin 2-3 days after vaccination and should go away after a few days. 

The information on this page was provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Vaccine in Montana

As of February 9, 2021, the DPHHS reports 140,000 doses have been administered and nearly 40,000 Montanan residents have been fully immunized; this is 4% of the state population. The current Montana vaccination distribution plan is separated into four phases. Information regarding these phases is presented in the table to the right. 

Montana has now moved into Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Individuals in this phase should use the contact information below to check for vaccine availability. Vaccine supply is dependent upon weekly Federal shipments, and appointments fill up quickly. 

FREE appointments in Cedar Hall at MetraPark can be made at or by calling (406) 651-6596 on February 22 after 9am. Community clinics will be held at MetraPark in future weeks.

For the week of Feb. 22, Billings Clinic will continue to provide first doses for vaccines at its campus. Contact information:

Billings Clinic                                        Office Phone: (406) 435-5744                 Scheduling Hours: 8am-12pm  M-W     Online Scheduling:

More information can be found at

PhasePhase Recipients
Phase 1a
  • Frontline healthcare workers
  • Long-Term Care and Assisted Living Facilities 
  • Healthcare workers with direct patient contact or virus exposure
Phase 1b
  • Persons aged 70 years and older
  • American Indians and other people of color who may be at elevated risk for COVID-19 complications
  • Persons aged 16-69 with high-risk medical conditions including: Cancer, down syndrome, sickle cell disease, heart conditions. (For a full list of qualifying medical conditions visit the DPHHS current vaccine distribution recommendations)
Phase 1c
  • Frontline essential workers
  • Persons aged 60 years and older
  • Individuals residing in congregate care and correctional facilities 
  • Persons aged 16-59 with medical conditions not included in Phase 1b including: Asthma, hypertension, liver disease, cystic fibrosis. (For a full list of qualifying conditions visit the DPHHS current vaccine distribution recommendations)
Phase 2
  • All remaining Montanans aged 16 years or older