Gila River Indian Community Continues Deployment of Mobile Vaccine Units on Memorial Day Weekend

Emma Hughes

Gila River Indian News


As COVID-19 positive case numbers decline in the Community, efforts to get Tribal members vaccinated continue to ramp up on multiple fronts. Currently, 42 percent of GRIC members who reside within the Community’s boundaries have been vaccinated.


The Tribal Health Department, the Office of Emergency Management, Gila River Health Care, and the Community Services Department have been working together to deploy the Community’s new fleet of eight Mobile Vaccination Units (MVU) to deliver vaccines.


“The mobile vaccination units are doing their job in terms of getting directly to the Community members,” said Candalerian Preston, Director for Tribal Health Department at an MVU event in District 2 on May 22. “We’re no longer asking the Community to come to us, we’re coming to them. They can walk out their door and get vaccinated. That’s the whole purpose here.” 


Recent statistics show that the number of new COVID-19 cases among Community members and employees dropped dramatically in the month of May. The Community reported just 15 new COVID cases in the month of May, with just two new cases occurring last week, according to statistics released by the Tribal Health Department.


“We still are experiencing positive cases in our community, however they’re not as (frequent) as they were a few months ago,” said Preston. “We’ve seen decreases over the (last) few weeks.”The MVU has been traveling throughout the Community during parts of the week and weekends. The units have visited all seven districts and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. 


The MVU can be set up to accommodate multiple people at a time to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. In the future, the vehicles can also be used deliver to health services to GRIC members and those living within the GRIC boundaries.


“The unit itself is a blessing, that it’s mobile and we can get it to go where we need to go and that people are able to get vaccinations as it travels throughout the Community,” said Councilwoman Carol Schurz, who stopped by an MVU event in District 2.


Greater availability of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine has further expanded the eligibility to individuals 12 years and older. The Moderna and single dose Johnson vaccine remain available to those 18-years and older.


Lt. Gov. Monica Antone attended an MVU event held in District 5 at St. Peter Mission School on May 23. Lt. Gov. Antone emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated as the state begins to ease back on COVID-19 restrictions and more places open to the public, including schools.Incentives have been provided by the districts at the MVU events, including t-shirts, face masks, gift cards, and non-perishable foods such as flour, rice and beans.


Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis recently announced the “Community Non-Profit Vaccine Incentive Program,” which offers federal funding to non-profits that host the MVU. Each non-profit host receives $100 per vaccination. St. Peter Mission School and the St. John Baptist Church were among the first non-profits to participate, receiving more than $3,000. Non-profits who administer the most vaccines are eligible for additional funding. 


Other standing vaccination sites like the Boys and Girls Club in District 3 continue to be open throughout the day during the week. For more information on COVID-19 vaccines and testing, visit