MVU Events Help Community Members Get Vaccines, as Cases of Delta Variants Rise in U.S.
Gila River Indian News
As the Gila River Indian Community continues its fight against COVID-19, the Mobile Vaccine Unit program continues to gain momentum as a key resource for those not yet vaccinated. During a June 27 vaccination event in District 4, 38 Community members received a COVID-19 vaccine.
The MVU stops have helped hundreds of Community members age 12 and up get vaccinated over the past several months. With the new Delta variant sweeping across the U.S., the Community continues to promote its efforts to make vaccines accessible to GRIC members – including through a social media campaign called “What’s Your Why” and by giving away prizes to bring more people to each MVU event.
Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis highlighted the GRIC vaccination rates and concerns over the Delta variant in a recent video address.
“Together … we kept our community from becoming a hotspot despite what was occurring across the state and nation,” said Gov. Lewis. “Six months into our vax program, we are at a 41 percent vaccination rate for our community.”
Gov. Lewis thanked Community members and GRIC employees for getting the COVID-19 vaccine, in turn allowing GRIC to relax certain COVID-19 restrictions and allowing many tribal workers to return to work. Gov. Lewis said that although the Community’s 41 percent vaccination rate is good, there needs to be an ongoing effort to get every Community member fully vaccinated.
The Community’s vaccination efforts have been hailed as an example by local and federal partners, including Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, said Gov. Lewis. The President’s wife and the Vice President’s husband both encouraged Community members to get the vaccine, with an emphasis on the youth population.
While the COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective against the Delta variant, said Lewis, he explained that this form of COVID-19 is 60 percent more transmissible and highly contagious for individuals who have not received a vaccine or their booster shot. Lewis urged young people about to return to schools to get vaccinated.
“As we plan for in person learning in our Community schools, my personal plea to our members is to make a plan to get vaccinated,” said Gov. Lewis. “As you can see there are vaccination events being planned in the Community and our mobile units are still out in the Community.”
Gov. Lewis also promoted the “What’s Your Why” campaign, encouraging Community members to think about their “why” to get vaccinated.
“My own ‘why’ is to protect our Community,” said Lewis. “It’s been a long and difficult pandemic and I am eager to see each of us gathering together at events throughout our community.”
Gemini Valenzuela, a District 4 resident, came to get her booster shot along with her sister. She cited her grandmother as her reason for getting the shot.
“I wanted to visit her … but I wanted to be safe for her and the whole family,” said Valenuzela, who pleaded with others to get vaccinated. “I encourage everyone to come out and get their vaccine. Especially for those going off to school, you will do a lot of good for yourself and the family.”
District 4 member Landen Martinez said the vaccine provides protection against others who may not be following social distancing protocols and not wearing a mask while in school. “I’m glad I got it,” said Martinez, a student at Mountain Pointe High School. “I am going to be back to school and I feel great, because I know I’ll have protection against the virus and for everyone around me.”
Natasha Juan, a Coolidge High School students, who lives in District 3, said her “why” centers on playing sports and helping protect her friends against COVID-19. “I feel a lot better getting vaccinated,” said Juan. “I think about be able to hang out with my friends, but also playing softball, because it can get hot wearing a mask and it’ll be easier to breathe.”