“Dear Doc”


Dear Doc, it took three years to develop the first polio vaccine. Was the COVID vaccine
developed too quickly?

There are five phases that
vaccine developers go through to get approval from the FDA. This can be simplified into two main phases: research (how to make the vaccine) and clinical trials.

The basic research of how to make a vaccine in 2020 was far different than in 1951, when Dr Jonas Salk began developing the polio vaccine.

Salk took killed polio virus and processed it in different ways to create the vaccine.  With modern biochemistry and virology,
vaccines are now made from knowledge of the exact genetic code of the virus.

This process for the COVID-19 vaccine went quickly due to collaboration among scientists throughout the world and to tremendous resources put into this development.

From January to April of 2020, labs around the world took
modern day technology that was already available and came up with dozens of COVID vaccine candidates.

The clinical studies began with small groups of volunteers to test safety, to test for what the best dose of the vaccine might be, and to test whether to give one or two shots.

Once these studies were completed, bigger studies followed to determine how well the vaccine worked and again how safe it was. The clinical phases went much faster than usual and without skipping steps because of those vast resources poured into the research by many wealthy countries.
A huge number of volunteers were willing to step up and be part of the study and numerous research and drug companies worked together through this entire process.

COVID-19 was so common that it only took a few months for the study patients to become exposed within their communities, as opposed to a year or two years.

The next phase involved groups of scientists who are not funded by the manufacturer of the
vaccine to very carefully look at raw study numbers to determine how well the vaccine worked and its side effects.
No vaccines in the past have ever had this much scrutiny in such a short amount of time.

The final phase looked at safety data after the vaccine was
approved and in widespread use.

I am glad to report that safety studies done last December and January involving 17.5 million doses only turned up 66 severe reactions.
None of those folks died and all fully recovered. That is 1 out of every 260,000 vaccine doses!


Dear Doc, my parents are in their late 60s and do not want to get the COVID vaccine.
I have young children and do not want them exposed.
What can I do?

What has worked for most parents is simply telling grandma and grandpa that they cannot have direct, unmasked, indoor contact with their family until the grandparents get vaccinated or until the children get vaccinated (vaccines should be available for those 6 months and older by sometime this fall).

This sounds harsh, but grandparents are now able to enjoy close contact with their families as vaccines are available for nearly all adults.

I also recommend giving factual information to the grandparents from reliable sources such as CDC.gov. Encourage them to disregard rumors, hearsay, and unsubstantiated statements.

A good web site to check on the truth of a statement is Snopes.com, which has been established for 25 years now.

Another usually easy to read site is Wikipedia.
The Pfizer, Modernatx.com, and Johnson and Johnson sites also give good information about how they developed the vaccines.


Why keep your children from getting the COVID? 

It can be very dangerous for a few children. As of  this past Thursday, 2,617 children in the U.S. have gotten Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome due to COVID-19.

Most of these children required hospitalization with many in the ICU. So far 33 of those children have died.

You also do not want to have the virus spread amongst your family and friends and at your child’s school. We all need to do whatever we can to end this pandemic.

Locally this is still very important because from March 19- 25 there have been significant outbreaks in both the Bonners Ferry area and in Lincoln County.

Average cases had increased in Lincoln County by 1 new case per day for 15 days to 4 new cases per day, mostly in the Libby area.

The last time we had this many cases was the end of January.


Have a COVID-19 question?

Send your inquiries to:
Dear Doc
1020 Idaho
Libby, MT


Dr. Gregory Rice,


LVFD Live Fire Training “Could not have gone better.”

by Stacy Bender

Several descendants of George and Myrtle Baeth gathered at the corner of Mineral  Ave. and Oak St. in Libby on Saturday, March 27, to watch as the home the family had gathered at for nearly 90 years was burned to its foundation.  Photo by Stacy Bender


According to Scott Beagle, Assistant Chief #2 with the Libby Volunteer Fired Department in Libby, the live fire training held on Saturday, March 27, at the former Baeth family home located at 1040 Mineral Avenue could not have gone more smoothly.

Nineteen LFVD volunteers were on site this past weekend as the final training exercise was set in
motion. First connecting and staging hoses for fire control, then executing isolated live flame and recovery exercises, and finally igniting the house for final demolition.  Within  90 minutes time the house had folded back into its foundation, bringing the end of an era to a close for the Baeth family.

“We really couldn’t have asked for a better burn,” Beagle said. “There was no wind, no inversions. This in turn made structural protection training – keeping the smoke and heat from affecting nearby residents – very manageable, too.”

In the weeks leading up to the training, LVFD had also utilized the structure for a number of Thursday night trainings for the department.

“We were able to work with crew members on how to properly bust doors, punch windows, utilize chainsaws to cut ceilings,” Beagle explained. “We used a smoke machine and worked with dummies on proper rescue protocol.”

The morning of the final fire, fire crews first worked two separate bedroom fires which allowed newer volunteers the chance to experience a live scene where multiple trucks, a system of hoses in full operation, and a crowd of spectators which might potential need control all became part of the  live-scene equation.

“Having this opportunity to work as department with all hands on deck is truly invaluable to our department and stages LVFD to better serve our community in the future,” Beagle said.


“Montana Yard Pets”

Mark Schell spotted these Big Horn sheep lounging about and enjoying their morning over the past weekend in Libby.This image was then shared with the Libby/Troy Area News and Opinion F B Group


Elias Westlund

Damon and Ayana Westlund welcomed a baby boy on March 17, 2021 at 11:33 p.m.
Elias Westlund weighed 6 lbs.,15 oz. and

measured 19 3/4 inches in length.