MVU Weekend Stops Help Dozens of GRIC Members Get COVID-19 Vaccines
Gila River Indian News
As the temperatures rise, so does the number of Community members receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The Mobile Vaccine Unit drew families out to District 1 and 4 to get vaccinated against COVID-19 on June 5 and 6.
The newly acquired MVU fleet has been on a rolling tour of the Community, making regular stops in each of GRIC’s seven districts over the past several weeks. In District 1 the MVU administered 12 vaccines. It provided 47 vaccinations to Community members in District 4.
Now that the age limit for the Pfizer vaccine has been lowered to 12 years of age, Community youth can now be administered the vaccine with a parent or guardian’s consent.
“You have to be 12 years of age and older to receive the Pfizer vaccine and 18 years and older to get the Moderna vaccine. You can come to any of the MVUs out in the Community and get vaccinated, because it is best protection for all of us,” said Candalerian Preston, Tribal Health Department Director.
Preston, a parent, accompanied her son to the MVU stop in District 4 to get the COVID-19 vaccine. “My 12-year-old son is here today,” said Preston. “I am thankful and happy that as young as he is, he has made that choice to protect himself and our family.”
A number of Council members attended the weekend MVU events. Lt. Gov Monica Antone thanked Community members who visited the MVUs. “It’s really good to see everyone out here to get vaccinated, because it will help us grow strong and help fight this virus,” she said.
Lt. Gov. Antone encouraged families to talk with their children and do their own research about the vaccine to get a better understanding of how it can keep them safe. She said lowering the age limit and prioritizing vaccinations for the younger age group of GRIC members adds a level of security against COVID-19, before schools allow students to return to the classroom.
“We still have positive COVID cases in our Community and we cannot let our guard down,” Lt. Gov. Antone explained. “So [we] will need to come together as a family to get vaccinated in order to promote ‘Community Immunity.”
District 1 Council Representatives Joey Whitman and Arzie Hogg also came out to support the vaccine drive. “It’s going to take us all to fight this thing (and) it takes every opportunity, like being here today, to combat this virus,” said Whitman, who emphasized getting vaccinated as a way for the Community to regain a sense of normalcy, and a way for GRIC members to go back to doing the things they enjoyed before the pandemic.
Councilman Hogg called the MVU effort “important because it saves lives.” He urged Community members to help prevent another rise in COVID-19 cases. “We are not out of this pandemic yet and one of the key things to do is get vaccinated.”
On June 13 the MVU made its latest weekend stop on Sunday, at St. Peters Mission School in District 5. Staff from Gila River Healthcare (GRHC) gave the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccination to 17 GRIC members, including five individuals under the age of 18. A recent change to eligibility requirement has opened to the vaccine program to Community members as young as age 12.
Clorenda Humeyumptewa, from Ak-Chin Indian Community, brought her 13-year-old son to St. Peter’s for a vaccination. Humeyumptewa said she and her son are looking forward to in-person schooling in the fall and traveling during the summer break with the peace of mind that they are safe against COVID-19.
“We lost his grandpa to COVID-19, so we’re getting him vaccinated so that he doesn’t have to be scared going out in public and so we can be around family again,” she said.
Due to rising temperatures and triple-digit heat, the vaccination site utilized St. Peter’s Feast House. All attendees who received the vaccine were given t-shirts, gift cards, and food boxes as incentives from District 5’s recreation committee.
Newly elected District 5 Community Council Representative Wahlean Riggs attended the vaccine event to assist with the distribution of incentives and to support the effort to get GRIC another step closer to “Community immunity.”
“I’m here today to support our families getting their vaccinations,” said Riggs, a lifelong resident of the District, “so that we slowly come back to some sense of normal life.”
MVU stops like this (right)were set up across District 2 and 5 on June 12 and 13 along with a vaccine clinic in District 6 on June 13 at the Learning Center.
Photos Emma Hughes/GRIN