As COVID-19 Case Numbers Remain Steady, Community, GRHC Leaders Urge Vaccinations

Emma Hughes

Gila River Indian News


With the holiday season upon us, leaders in the Community and with Gila River Health Care continue to urge GRIC tribal members and residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

During the week of Dec. 6th to 12th, the number of COVID-19 infections in the Community slightly decreased from 91 in the prior week to 78 in the current week. Even so, the pandemic has yet to slow down across the United States, with some areas of Arizona and the country experiencing an increase in cases that can be attributed to the holidays and social gatherings.

Three different COVID-19 vaccines are now available to Community members 5 years old and older. All vaccines require a booster shot. While no vaccine is 100% effective at completely preventing COVID, the shots are highly effective in protecting against severe infection and dramatically lessen the chances of hospitalization due to COVID and its variants. 

Gila River Health Care provides COVID and flu vaccines, either by appointment or on a walk-in basis. A schedule of upcoming vaccine events can be found online at

You can make an appointment by calling (602) 528-1482.

As of Dec. 16th, 35,350 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to enrolled Community members age 5 or older. Currently, 32% of GRIC members age 5 or older have been fully vaccinated. Among Community residents ages 5 and older, 53 percent have been fully vaccinated while 60 percent have received at least one vaccination.

The full vaccination rate for the U.S. is at 61% currently. In Arizona, 56% of eligible people have been fully vaccinated.

The recent Omicron variant has become a concern, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The variant seems to spread more easily than other variants, say doctors, but it is not yet clear whether omicron is more severe than the current dominant Delta variant.

The CDC and GRHC both suggest following safety precautions like wearing a face mask and keeping physical distance from others, staying in well-ventilated areas, keeping your hands clean and staying home if you are sick. 

If you experience any symptoms or have been exposed to someone who may be COVID positive, monitor your symptoms and get tested. To date, the Community has performed more than 341,000 tests, including members, residents, employees and members of other tribes. Many people have been tested more than once. The positivity rate for all tests since March 2020 is about 2.8 percent. 

The COVID-19 incentive program is still available for fully vaccinated GRIC members. The deadline is January 31, 2022. More information and applications can be found online, at or at any District Service Center.