There is a lot of news about vaccines for COVID-19 over the last few weeks. When will a vaccine make it's way out to the Colviile Indian Reservation and what should people expect in regard to the process of becoming vaccinated?
The first Pfizer vaccines for COVID-19 will arrive shortly (literally any day) and will be distributed through the IHS clinics and Lake Roosevelt Community Health Center in accordance with the approved IHS vaccination plan. The CDC has recommended, and the IHS plan includes the priority distribution of these first vaccines to frontline healthcare workers (those providing direct care to patients with COVID-19 or who may have COVID-19 such as, doctors, nurses, technicians, etc.) and to residents (elders and disabled individuals) of long term care centers, such as nursing homes. The first individuals to be vaccinated on the Colville Reservation will indeed include frontline healthcare workers at the various clinics as well as the residents and staff at the Colville Tribes Convalescent Center. Additional shipments of the Pfizer vaccine and then likely other vaccines will be coming regularly (hopefully weekly) after that. The vaccine requires a second does after about 3 weeks, so some doses will be used for that purpose. After the vaccine is offered to these individuals, the next priority group includes individuals who are more susceptible to the effects of COVID-19, those over the age of 65 and who have underlying health conditions that make them less able to cope with disease. These individuals will likely be vaccinated at the clinic facilities and/or in other locations set up for that purpose. We’ll continue to provide you with updates and information, and our AAOA staff will help to reach to elders to ensure that they are aware of the vaccines and how they can obtain them when they are available.
With a handful of vaccines now starting to be approved by the FDA and starting to be shipped to different parts of the United States, how encouraging is that for someone in the health field?
The delivery of the first approved, effective vaccines is a great sign and is highly encouraging. It is not the end of the pandemic, but it is a great step in that direction. We need to remember that it will take a while to get the vaccines out to people who want and need them, and that during that time, we still need to be careful to follow social distancing guidelines and wear masks in order to prevent further spread.
While the news about vaccines is exciting, we are seeing our numbers continue to climb. Do you have suggestions for the tribal membership about protecting themselves at this time?
The fatigue of this ongoing battle with COVID-19 and the many changes to our lives have affected us all, but we need to remember that we can continue to make a difference by following the precautions we have come to know. Social distancing is more important than ever. The main identified causes of increases in case has been group gatherings that did not include mask wearing or social distancing.