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  PANDEMIC   Protecting communities and families.  

Story by Brian Bull - - Story Source
Published on Monday March 15, 2021 - 1:19 AM

Once leery of federal health initiatives, Native Americans embrace COVID-19 vaccines as a way to protect communities and families.

While the U.S. as a whole is just finding its stride administering the COVID-19 vaccine to its citizens, many Native American tribes – including the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians – are on a mean streak.

According to Cherity Bloom-Miller, the tribe's infectious control officer, CTSI has vaccinated roughly one-quarter of the 5,547 enrolled members, and about one-third of those who live in Oregon. As of Friday, the tribal government had given the Moderna vaccine to 3,000 people 18 and over, members and otherwise.

Dee Pigsley, chairwoman of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, says she was concerned the initial vaccine rollout was moving too slowly. But by late January, they had enough Moderna vaccine allocated from the state for 300 people.

"So we've been setting up appointments for tribal members," Pigsley continues, noting that the tribe was due to get another 100 doses the following week. "We've vaccinated the clinic staff, our essential staff, elders. So we're working down that priority list."

The CTSI is now looking to inoculate casino workers over the next three weeks. The Chinook Winds Casino Resort has just reopened, boding well for one of the tribe's biggest sources of revenue.

The Oregon Health Authority says that as of March 9, 14,077 people identifying as American Indian or Alaska Native have been vaccinated against COVID-19, 2% of the 750,486 people vaccinated so far. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1.8% of Oregon's 4 million residents identify as American Indian or Alaska Native.