FILE – COVID-19 vaccine trials

(The Center Square) – The state of Montana will move to phase 1B+ of its COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan beginning Monday, meaning more residents will be eligible to be vaccinated.

In Phase 1B+, vaccines will be available to Montanans 60 years old and older and Montanans 16 to 59 qualifying medical conditions such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, and liver disease.

“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,” Gov. Greg Gianforte said in a statement.

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

Montanans 60 years of age and older account for 89 percent of deaths and 72 percent of hospitalizations from COVID-19 in the state, according to the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

As of Tuesday, 260,705 doses have been administered in Montana.

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