Saturday was the second consecutive weekend in which the Gila River Indian Community hosted a drive-through vaccination event to protect those who were most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Stephen Lo Louis, the leader of the community, called the Saturday distribution a “historic event.” It has gathered tribal, federal, and state resources to provide large-scale vaccines to communities destroyed by the virus.
“This is how you keep the Gila River strong. Will you come here and get vaccinated,” he said, adding that he hopes the event will serve as a model for other tribes.
As of February 18th, the tribal community was distributing Over 7,000 doses, including nearly 1,000 at a drive-through event last weekend for tribal employees. According to Lewis, about 2,300 doses were possible at the event on Saturday.
Arizona tribes face high COVID-19 mortality rates. To one point Navajo Nation had the highest infection rate In the United States
The Gila River Indian Community settlement spans nearly 600 square miles just south of Phoenix. According to the tribal website, about 11,257 people lived in the settlement at the time of the 2010 census.
On Saturday, Lewis wore a hat with the words “Glitter Burst Long” and a Phoenix Suns jersey.
“Good defense has always been said to be a strong attack. We have been defending throughout this pandemic, and now, with this opportunity to vaccinate our community, I We can attack, “he said. “By taking shots, we can regain our lives.”
“Incredibly efficient layout” for drive-through events
Four stations have been set up for this event on the grounds of Chandler’s Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. The first was a screening station where participants were given various forms before driving to the second station to confirm their tribal registration.
The third station is where participants actually receive the shot and then move to the final recovery station, waiting 15-30 minutes before leaving.
Lewis praised the event’s “incredibly efficient layout” and thanked the various partners involved in this effort, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Arizona National Guard, and the Indian Health Service.
The event was held from 9am to 3pm and was open to members of the Gila River Indian Community over the age of 18. By noon, just over 300 vaccines had been given. This is well below the 2,300 available.
According to Lewis, the tribe has created a message to inform members of the tribe about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, and knows that some may be hesitant.
“I’m not asking fellow community members to do what I don’t do,” said Lewis, noting that he had recorded vaccinations to encourage members of the tribe to follow suit.
“In the end, change will happen.”
Ruben Tapia, 40, was one of the members of the tribe who fired on Saturday. The whole process took about 20 minutes.
“Honestly, 11 months wasn’t easy,” he said of the pandemic’s impact on his life.
During the pandemic, Tapia lost his job and moved with his mother. He said applying for unemployment benefits is a difficult process and is considered risky, so hesitates to apply for a new job.
“Now that I actually got it, there seems to be a positive outlook that something is happening and eventually change will happen,” he said.
Tapia was the second vaccinated family member after her mother was first vaccinated. Together, Tapia said they wanted to encourage the rest of their family to be vaccinated.
Tapia said he felt that the COVID-19 vaccine was no different from the one he had received before and that he was “well” right after the injection.
“I can understand the hesitation, but it is also everyone’s personal duty to protect everyone else,” he said.
Robin Henry, the event’s clinical supervisor, said Saturday’s event was “great” and most people went in and out within 45 minutes.
She said last week’s event acted as a test run, identifying some “problems” in the process and working to fix them by Saturday.
Henry has been working with Gila River Healthcare for 12 years and how disproportionate she istribeThe community is affected by a health crisis like COVID-19.
She said she, like everyone else at the event, noticed some hesitation when it came to vaccination. She has led community efforts to dispel concerns about shots and get as many people as possible to participate in shots.
“People are still a little worried about vaccines, so we’re working hard to clarify it, get them the right information, and encourage them to come and receive it,” she said. Said.
Henry hopes that over the course of days and weeks, more people will be able to take the vaccine comfortably after seeing others go through the process quickly and easily. Said.
“As long as we continue to spread such words, I really think it will make a difference, it will just take some time,” she said. “The more we vaccinate people, and the more we see people work with it, the more I think it makes a big difference.”
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