GRIC MVU Program Continues to Vaccinate Community Members Young and Old


Gila River Indian News




Mobile Vaccination Unit events continue most weekends throughout the Community, with Districts 4 and 6  seeing significant numbers turnout for vaccinations at events held over the past two weeks.


On Oct. 16. in District 4,  27 individuals received a vaccination, including many young people. With people under the age of 40 having the highest infection rates, getting more young people vaccinated has proven to be the best protection for slowing the spread of COVID-19 and moving GRIC closer to “Community Immunity.”


Staff also provided flu shots for anyone who wanted one during the COVID vaccination event. District 4 also provided attendees with a $25 gift card incentive.


Faith Johns, District 5, recently relocated back to the Community from Oregon and took advantage of the MVU. “I got it for my family since most of my family has the vaccine, so I feel good now that I have it too,” said Johns, who urged more people to get the vaccine so we can all get back to some “normalcy” and stay safe from this dangerous virus.


“I waited to see how the first nine months of vaccinations looked for people and decided it was time for me to get it,” said Katrina Soke, District 6, who received her first vaccine shot with her daughter that morning. “I got the vaccine to feel safer for my family and be safe when I work, travel, and to keep the Community safe.”


Soke’s daughter Alexia, 12 years old, got her first vaccine dose. She said it felt like any other typical shot. With the vaccine, she now looks forward to traveling again with her family.


While vaccination rates are steadily increasing, infections in the Community continue to occur. Increased vaccinations are vital as we head into the holiday season since small family gatherings can be a primary cause of COVID-19 infections. The Community expects to see an increase in attendance at the MVU events as booster shot eligibility include more age ranges.


Mobile Vaccination Unit events will continue throughout the year as the need for increased vaccination rates remains a primary goal for the public health and safety of the Community. This is likely to includes vaccines for children ages 5 and up in the coming months, depending on rulings by the Centers for Disease Control.


At a GRIC MVU event held at the Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino parking lot in District 6 on Oct. 23, close to 20 Community members and individuals from other tribal communities came out to get vaccinated.


The attendees had varying reasons for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, from finding a place of normalcy among friends and family to being able to attend entertainment events and travel.


Lt. Gov. Monica Antone was present to receive her third shot at the MVU. “Today, I got my third booster of the Pfizer vaccine, being that I am six months out from receiving my last booster.”


She said that keeping up with her booster shots is important for health reasons and to help towards “Community Immunity,” or “Family Immunity,” as she described it. Lt. Gov. Antone said her concern is for the Community’s children, some of whom are not yet eligible for the vaccine.


“It is very important that I take this vaccine, not only for my well-being, but for my family. We do know that there are many variants of COVID out there with the potential to affect our community. With the many deaths in our community, I encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” said Lt. Gov. Antone.


Vanessa Carlyle, a District 6 resident, also attended. “I’ve been wanting it, but I was waited to see how everyone else reacted to it, when they got vaccinated,” she said of the vaccine. “I was a little scared, but I decided to go get it, with a little more time understanding about the vaccine.”


Latisha Barlow, a member of the Navajo Nation, said going to concerts and being able to watch her favorite bands perform live are things she wants to experience after getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19.


“At first, I was apprehensive about the vaccine, but since I am pregnant, I have heard a lot of recommendations for women in my case,” said Barlow, who also said being around family motivated her to get vaccinated. “I get why some people are against the vaccine, but a lot of people I know have been vaccinated and it made me want to consider getting vaccinated.”


Other individuals pointed out other reasons for getting vaccinated and what it means to work towards “Community Immunity.”

“The reason I got my shot today was because I see other places getting hit hard by COVID and we don’t know exactly how things will be these next couple of months and year,” said Julian Morago from District 6. Morago said he sought the vaccine to protect his family against COVID-19, and also for the Community as a whole – to hopefully one day see families coming together to celebrate various events.


“It’s actually my third shot,” said Jennifer Brewer, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. “I have elderly parents and I spend a lot of my time with mother and mother in-law, so I want to make sure that I don’t spread [it] (COVID-19) to them.”


She said that traveling to visit her daughter, who is attending college in Chicago, was another contributing factor to her reason to get a booster shot. “With being vaccinated, I know that am not going to get her sick or my own community sick with the virus.  I am also an ex-smoker, so I know if I did get COVID, I would most likely end up on a ventilator and that is something I don’t want.”