New Mobile Vaccine Units Begin Rolling Out into the Community Districts
“We now have a resource that can bring the vaccine to your household and local districts” - Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis
Gila River Indian News
The Gila River Indian Community has unveiled a new way to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to Community members. In a series of opportunities to reach Community members, the GRIC COVID-19 task force held a vaccination clinic at the Rawhide Event Center at Wild Horse Pass on April 26.
The event also offered Community members and partners on the COVID-19 vaccine initiatives, an opportunity to see the unveiling of the new Mobile Vaccination Unit. Referred to as an MVU, these vehicles have been outfitted to provide vaccinations across the Community at various locations.
“I am excited to share the Community’s latest resource in our fight against COVID-19,” said Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis. He said the MVUs are part of the Community’s efforts to get vaccinations to GRIC members who have not been able to attend previous vaccination events.
“We now have a resource that can bring the vaccine to your household and local districts,” said Lewis. “These MVUs represent our Community, our ability to seek innovative solutions to challenges confronting our community.”
Larry Borden, the Founder & CEO of Aardvark Mobile Health, attended the unveiling. “It’s truly an hour to be here today, as we deliver the first mobile vaccination unit to your community,” said Borden. He said the most rewarding part of his team’s work is seeing the mobile units being utilized to deliver vaccines to families in rural areas of the country, such as the Community.
Borden said it is the first time Aardvark has worked with a tribal nation. According to Borden, when his company saw the pandemic impacting communities across the U.S., he realized how important it would be to for healthcare workers to have a mobile testing and vaccination unit available.
“Today represents all of the reasons why we at Aardvark Mobile Health do what we do,” said Borden.
Lewis was joined by Congressman Tom O’Halleran, who has supported the Community’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
O’Halleran said during the pandemic, he has kept the needs of tribal communities as a top priority. “I have been committed to making sure the Community receives the funding for healthcare, housing vaccinations, broadband and tribal governmental needs,” said O’Halleran. He added, “This is such an important and innovative way to make sure the entire community has access to the vaccine.”
According to Gov. Lewis, currently 41 percent of the Community has been vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We realized, in order to get to the level of ‘Community Immunity,’ we need an individualized approach to bringing the vaccine out to Community members,” the Lewis explained.
The MVU’s can be customized to the end users’ needs, including being used after the pandemic subsides for everything from healthcare tests to delivering medical services.
“I want to thank the Community’s COVID-19 task force, who worked through the logistics to bring [these] MVU’s to our community,” said Lt. Gov. Monica Antone, who added that there has been a great deal of collaboration toward making the Community an even safer place as vaccines become widely available to GRIC members.
“There is a lot more work ahead as we move through this pandemic, but with many individuals working tirelessly behind the scenes, we have many to thank for getting the vaccines out to our people,” said Antone.
Antone, said it is important to get vaccinated for individual protection, for families and the Community in order to reach “Community Immunity.” Antone specifically mentioned the work of external partners like Rep. O’Halleran, Indian Health Services and the new Administration in Washington D.C.
Also on hand for the event was Dr. Ty Reidhead, director of the IHS Phoenix Area Office.
“I’ve have been to [your] other vaccine events, which have been great to see the Community getting the vaccines out to fight this pandemic,” said Dr. Reidhead, who applauded the Community’s use of its sovereignty to get federal funding and resources to meet the challenges ahead.
Reidhead said the MVU’s are one example of how the Community is preparing to meet the next surge of the pandemic, by being prepared and having the right resources available to vaccinate its members.
Gov. Lewis echoed Reidhead’s remarks and cited the ability of tribal communities to succeed when given the right tools to face a challenge.
“We know the solutions for our communities, when provided the resources, are successful time and time again,” said Gov. Lewis.
For more information about when the MVU will be in a district near you, contact GRHC COVID-19 hotline at: 1-800-259-3449. Community members can also visit grhc.org/hub.