Over 400 Community Members Receive COVID Vaccinations As Eligibility Expands
Gila River Indian News
Hundreds of Gila River Indian Community members attended a Nov. 20 “family friendly vaccination event” organized by Gila River Health Care. The event, which emphasized the need to get families vaccinated against COVID-19, was held at the District 3 Boys & Girls Club in Sacaton.
More than 400 individuals received a COVID-19 vaccination at the daylong event, including 130 children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old.
The availability of COVID-19 vaccinations for younger ages comes after the Centers for Disease Control recommended the Pfizer vaccine as safe for children between 5 and 11 years old. It also comes on the heels of the CDC’s recent recommendation that all individuals should get a booster shot if it has been six months since their second COVID-19 vaccination.
A number of Community departments collaborated with GRHC on the event, passing out information at booths and being on hand to answer Community members’ questions.
“We are doing this in a very safe way with COVID-19 vaccines, booster shots and flu shots today,” said Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, who called the event a key driver in the Community’s effort to fight COVID infections. “It’s important that we get to the facts. There is a lot of false information out there. That is why we are out here today, so you can make a very informed decision.”
Lt. Gov. Monica Antone came to the event with her grandson, who showed her the spot where he got vaccinated. “I’m happy this event is taking place for family immunity for vaccinations,” she said. “It means a lot as a grandmother and mother, seeing all the families out here today. It means a lot to see the effort going on in order for families to stay strong together.
Dr. Anthony Santiago, GRHC CEO, also emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated to stop the rise of COVID cases in the Community. “Fortunately, we have a defense against it,” Dr. Santiago said of ongoing infections. “Vaccinations have been overwhelmingly safe and effective against COVID-19.”
At the time of the family vaccination event, Dr. Santiago said GRHC has given out over 27,500 COVID-19 vaccinations with around 14,000 being fully vaccinated and another 2,000 individuals who have received their third booster.
“We have been able to give the third dose to those 18 years and older, if you are six months out since you’ve received your Pfizer or Moderna vaccine,” said Dr. Santiago. “What we’ve seen is getting vaccinated save lives and that all of us may need extra doses over time.”
Santiago added: “Eventually we may have a vaccine that lasts longer, but that’s not a reason to not get vaccinated.”
With the holiday season coming, both Gov. Lewis and Lt. Gov Antone encouraged families considering celebrations to get vaccinated first.
“When you think about wanting to be together for the holidays and spending family traditions together, I think it means more to get vaccinated,” said Lt. Gov. Antone.
Mobile Vaccination Unit events will be held in multiple Community districts throughout the month of December. More information can be found at http://grhc.org/vaccine/. Community members can make a vaccination appointment by calling 602-528-1482.
Right, Parents from across the Community came out to get their children vaccinated once the CDC eligibility was expanded to include those ages 5 to 11 years old. Christopher Lomahquahu/GRIN