NESPELEM, WA – More than 4,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19 have been delivered on the Colville Reservation. This number represents more than a third of tribal members who have received at least the first shot of the required two shots of the Moderna vaccine, and many have received both doses. In the coming days, the one shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine will also be available.
Vaccines are offered daily at Omak and Nespelem IHS clinics and the Lake Roosevelt Community Health Centers in Inchelium and Keller. While vaccine appointments were at first only extended to high-risk individuals, such as front line health care workers and elders over 65 years of age, or essential workers such as educators, the Colville Business Council announced in February, 2021 that vaccines are now available to any tribal member over the age of 18.
The early vaccination success is due to the hard work and coordination of staff at the various clinics on the Reservation. The clinics have conducted community vaccination events and otherwise worked with the Tribes to facilitate vaccinations for all tribal members.
This progress has allowed the Colville Tribes to consider plans to re-open the Reservation. Even now, tribal employees are returning to full-time office-based work and tribal government is more accessible to in-person access by tribal members. Incentives have been offered to encourage all eligible people to take the vaccine, including a relaxation of travel and quarantine requirements for those vaccinated.
The Chairman of the Colville Tribes, Rodney Cawston, said, “It is thrilling to see solid progress in vaccination rates of the Colville people. Each person who takes the vaccine improves their own safety and the safety of their friends, neighbors, and family.”
Chairman Cawston continued, “However, we must also remember that the fight is not over. We cannot relax our vigilance until our community is as safe as possible. If you are in the two-thirds of tribal members who have not yet been vaccinated, please call your nearest clinic and make an appointment right away. And all people should continue the precautions of following the three “W”s – wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.”