Mobile Vaccination Units Draw Increase in GRIC Youth
Gila River Indian News
The Community staged another Mobile Vaccination Unit event on Saturday, Aug 28, at the District 5 Service Center, administering the newly FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine shots. In total, 44 vaccinations were administered, a drastic increase from the month prior, which saw fewer than 10 people come to be vaccinated. The majority of the vaccines given at the Saturday event went to young people.
“In the Community, we’re seeing a high increase in cases … between ages of zero to 19 years of age,” said GRIC Tribal Health Director Candelarian Preston. “That’s huge.”
Preston emphasized that vaccinations provide the best layer of protection for the Community. “I’m so happy to see the amount of people here today to protect themselves, their children, relatives, and all of us as a Community,” she said. “This is truly how we’re going to get out of this pandemic.”
Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis attended the event and highlighted the recent approval of the Pfizer vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Governor called the approval further assurance for anyone considering the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
“We’re seeing a lot of young people from 12-19 years of age that are sadly getting COVID,” said Gov. Lewis. “We really need everyone 12 years old and up to get a vaccine to protect yourselves, brothers and sisters under 12, and to protect your elders.”
Lewis also discussed the Community’s planning for a booster vaccine program. Pending further research and development, he said a third booster shot may be on the horizon for everyone already fully vaccinated.
Throughout the morning, a steady stream of families arrived, with attendees coming until the event closed. While some received a second shot after initially being vaccinated last month, the majority were there for their first shot. In addition, numerous school-aged youth received their first dose, citing Pfizer’s FDA approval and in-person schooling as a driving factor.
“I wanted to get the vaccine and was nervous and excited,” said Annie Jackson, who recently turned 12 and became eligible for a vaccine. Jackson, who attends in-person school, said she feels safer and looks forward to being around friends and family. She also stressed to her peers that getting vaccinated is not as scary as you may think and encouraged everyone to get a vaccination.
Annie Jackson’s mother, Iris, also brought her son for his vaccination. With both her children attending school outside the Community, she called the vaccine a source of comfort. “The vaccinations provide a little bit of reassurance that you’re a little safer than without it.”
Similar feelings about the vaccine were shared at the District 1 GRIC MVU on Aug. 21 event among parents, who brought their kids to the get vaccinated. “At first [they] were a little apprehensive. My older daughter has gotten vaccinated on the last event,” said Andreanna Duran from District 1, who brought her two daughters to the MVU event.
She said, “I gave them the option on whether they want to get vaccinated, even though I have already gotten it. I am very proud of them for making their own decision, because it teaches them responsibility.
With the start of school just around the corner District 4 parent Lloyd Gray brought his son to the MVU event. “Since he participates in high school football, you never know the status of the other students and school, and whether [they] are vaccinated or not.
Gray said, “We wanted him to get vaccinated and protected. [They] are going with the in-person option of schooling at Hamilton High School, so it makes even more sense for my son to get vaccinated, before returns to class.”
As part of the event, District 5 Service Center staff provided incentives for everyone who received a vaccination regardless of their district affiliation. Incentives included t-shirts, pop sockets, stickers, and a gift card valued up to $25 at various retailers and restaurants.
Like the District 5 service center staff, who provided incentives for Community members, who came out to get vaccinated. The District 1 staff gave out Amazon Fire tablets to individuals, who received their booster shot (second vaccination shot). The Amazon Fire tablets are available to all Community members, who signed-up with District 1 service center staff upon receiving their first shot at any one of the District 1 MVU events.
MVUs and vaccination clinics throughout the Community are becoming increasingly available for everyone each month. These continued efforts will help increase the Community vaccination rate and slow the spread of COVID-19 among Community members.