FILE – COVID-19 vaccine trials

(The Center Square) – The state of Montana has updated its COVID-19 vaccination plan to account for new federal recommendations and an updated timeline on how many doses the state will receive and when.

The federal guidelines prioritize those most at risk first. The first group, identified as Phase 1a, include front-line health care workers, residents and staff of long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, and other health care workers with direct patient contact. About 60,000 Montanans fall into this first group, and nearly 17,000 have already received their first doses.

Both Pfizer's and Moderna's separate vaccines require two doses about three weeks apart.

Gov. Steve Bullock on Wednesday said the updated plan outlines an estimated timeline for vaccine distribution based on risk in Phases 1a, 1b, 1c and Phase 2, when vaccines are expected to available for everyone by late spring or early summer.

Phase 1b is expected to begin in mid-January and includes individuals 75 years old and older; essential workers; those residing in congregate care facilities and prison, and American Indians and other people of color who are at a higher risk. About 90,000 Montana residents fall into this phase.

Phase 1c is scheduled to begin in mid-March and includes those aged 65 years and older, individuals aged 16-64 with other medical conditions such as diabetes and lung disease, and essential workers. About 171,000 Montana residents are included in this phase.