NESPELEM - There have been nearly 300 cases of COVID-19 on the Colville Reservation, and as of Jan. 7 there were 21 active and reported cases on the reservation, according to the Colville Tribal Emergency Operations Center.
A spike of COVID-19 cases through the holiday season has been extended and continuous, but Dec. 29 provided a glimpse of hope for the Colville Tribes.
Colville Tribal elder Mike Seyler, a resident of the Colville Tribal Convalescent Center, was the first to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination during a small ceremony at the Colville Service Unit’s Nespelem Clinic, Dec. 29.
During his prayer at the event, Colville Business Council Chair Rodney Cawston prayed the vaccine signaled a beginning of the end of the pandemic on the reservation and around the world, thanking the elder for his leadership.
“I want to thank this elder for stepping forward, for being the first to be vaccinated,” said Cawston. “There are many who are questioning whether they will take the vaccine or not … Here today, thinking whether I should receive the vaccine, I hope that if I go through this that it will encourage others to step forward and get vaccinated. It can save their lives and the lives of others around them.”
Following the ceremony, the tribes continued providing vaccines for service unit staff. The following day, the tribes continued vaccinations of staff and residents - on a voluntary basis - at the Convalescent Center.
In mid-December, in anticipation for the vaccine the tribes released a three-phase COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Plan.
In the first phase, the plan showed that those eligible to receive the vaccine include health care workers, Colville Tribal Convalescent Center staff and residents, EMTs, direct contact Emergency Operation Center staff, elders over 65 years old and essential workers over 60 years old.
In phase two those eligible to receive the vaccination will be elders over 55, remaining EOC staff, educators, Correction staff, law enforcement, essential workers, and homeless populations, and patients with underlying conditions.
In phase 3 all healthy adults and healthy adolescents will be eligible.
In the first shipment, the Colville Tribes received 300 doses of the Moderna vaccine, and Colville Service Unit Director Colleen Cawston noted the four clinics across the reservation will continue to receive vaccines on a weekly basis.
Cawston encouraged all who were interested in receiving the vaccine to contact one of the four clinics.
CBC members Norma Sanchez, Jarred-Michael Erickson and Shar Zacherle attended the ceremony with the CBC Chair.
Colville Service Unit Clinic Nurse Supervisor Janice Reyes, who administered the vaccine for Seylor, noted the Moderna vaccine calls for a second vaccination within 28 days after the first.
All clinics on the reservation also continue testing for COVID-19.