Suquamish Tribe’s Community Health Manager Dr. Barbara Hoffman provides an update on the latest COVID-19 surge now hitting the community, with details on when you should get tested and what to do if you or a family member gets sick.
Tribal Council and Suquamish government leaders are closely tracking the spike in Omicron infections that is sweeping the entire country and is sickening people here on the Port Madison Indian Reservation.
We are taking action, and we are asking that you do also. Please take these steps to protect yourself and those who are unable to get vaccinated, especially our youngest children:
- If you aren’t well, please get tested and isolate yourself from others.
- If you are a close contact with someone who has COVID, please wait five days and then get tested.
- Testing is available free to all Tribal members and their households, as well as government staff and PME employees, at the Tribal Center, every weekday from 8:30am to noon.
- The ELC tested staff and students and will reopen Jan. 5 with limited hours, 9am – 4pm. CKA tested all staff and students and has reopened.
- All Tribal services are by appointment only or via curbside pick-up this week. Non-essential Tribal government staff are asked to work from home.
- Vaccinations and boosters are our best protection. Please make sure you and all family members are fully vaccinated and boosted if eligible. Make a vaccination appointment at: https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov
- Children age 12 and up are eligible for vaccinations and can get boosters if their second dose was at least 6 months ago.
- Children age 5 and up should get vaccinated. Please check with your health care provider if you have concerns about getting your child vaccinated.
- Avoid gathering indoors with anyone outside your household. Keep your “bubble” small.
- Wear N-95 masks, or two layers of other masks, when outside your bubble.
- Wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer.
- Tribe Emergency Management has ordered additional home test kits. We will notify you via SUN alert when they are available.
These steps worked to help reduce the impact on the Tribal community so far. Now we need to put these steps to work again while Omicron burns through the community.
Acting together we can protect vulnerable members of our family and community.
More background information
The Omicron variant is much more catching, and the numbers infected are doubling every few days. We’ll have information on the number of positive cases tested by Tribal Community Health later this week.
Some people are less concerned about Omicron because it is said to be less deadly. Still, hospitals around the state are filling up with very sick people. In most cases, but not all cases, those getting very ill or dying are people who are not vaccinated.
The Tribe has an adequate supply of PCR tests, but is asking those who are not ill or a close contact, to hold off on testing during this time.
tix̌ix̌dubut čəxʷ (take care of yourself)
NEW COVID-19 Quarantine & Isolation Guidelines
The Suquamish Tribe has updated COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation guidelines in light of recent updates to CDC criteria, increased local positivity rates, and the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have tested positive, please contact your health care provider.
COVID Testing – Testing is closed during the Tribe’s Winter Break, through Jan. 3, 2022. Please click here for alternative testing sites.
Testing through Community Health staff will resume Jan. 4, Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 12 noon without an appointment. Results are typically known within 48 hours. For more information, contact Community Health at 360-394-8469.
What to do while you Quarantine (When you are exposed but have no symptoms of COVID-19)
- Fully vaccinated/unvaccinated individuals exposed to a close contact event and who are asymptomatic (no symptoms), must quarantine for 14 days and should complete a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test 3-5 days following.
- Fully vaccinated/unvaccinated individuals who remain asymptomatic throughout the duration of their quarantine may leave quarantine on day seven (7) or later at the discretion of the local health jurisdiction, if they:
- Have received a negative PCR test on day five (5) or later and remain symptom free;
- Monitor for symptoms and wear a mask when within any indoor setting for the full 14 days;
- Immediately self-isolate if symptoms develop and get tested with a PCR test;
- They may leave quarantine on day 10 if no PCR test is performed.
- Continue to follow all travel, masking, and physical distancing recommendations. Residents of health care on congregate settings will follow agency policy.
- Fully vaccinated/unvaccinated individuals who become symptomatic, should complete a PCR test and immediately self-isolate following the onset of symptoms. Next steps will be determined based on the testing outcome.Fully vaccinated individuals who do not quarantine should wear a mask indoors and when in public spaces for 14 days following Close Contact exposure.
While in Quarantine
- Monitor for symptoms, fever greater than 100.4° F, cough, shortness of breath, or other COVID-19 symptoms. CDC COVID-19 Self-Checker (Scroll ½ way down page)
- If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19.
- Monitor for symptoms for an additional 14 days following exposure.
- If symptomatic, immediately self-isolate and contact your healthcare provider.
What to do while in Isolation (When you separate from others because you are infected and/or have symptoms of COVID-19)
Those in isolation should stay home until it’s safe for them to be around others. At home, anyone sick or infected should separate from others, stay in a specific “sick room” or area, and use a separate bathroom (if available).
- Monitor for symptoms. If experiencing an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
- Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible.
- Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
- Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.
- Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
- Wear a mask when around other people if able.
Asymptomatic – Refers to an individual who is infected by the disease but does not display any of the clinical symptoms know to be associated with the disease.
Close Contact – Exposure occurs when someone has been within 6 feet of an individual infected with COVID-19 for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Indirect contact without the combination of close proximity and duration does not constitute close contact exposure.
Fully Vaccinated – Defines an individual who has received their full regiment of vaccine dosages and is at least two weeks post completion of their final vaccination. Though booster vaccinations are not yet considered part of the full vaccination definition, boosters are strongly encouraged.
Infected – An individual who is sick with and/or has tested positive for COVID-19; they may or may not be symptomatic.
Isolation – To physically separate a person infected with COVID-19 from people not infected to prevent the spread of disease; a person need not be symptomatic to warrant isolation.
Quarantine – To separate and restrict the movement of persons who are not symptomatic but may have been exposed to a communicable disease, to prevent close contacts that will spread disease.
CEMP: Appendix I.2, Isolation & Quarantine Guidelines CDC Quarantine and Isolation Recommendations
COVID-19 home test kits are now available to Suquamish Tribal member households.
This QuickVue home test is authorized for nonprescription home use for individuals aged 2 years or older. The test can be used within 6-days of symptom onset. Or, for those without symptoms or other medical reasons to suspect COVID-19 infection, it can be used when tested twice over three days with at least 24 hours (and no more than 48 hours) between tests.
Kits may be picked up at Wellness, Tribal Child Welfare, Human Services, Chief Kitsap Academy, Early Learning Center, Suquamish Police Department, and through the Elders Program.
You can learn more about the home test kit here.
Meanwhile, Suquamish Tribe’s Community Health COVID-19 testing station is open M-F 8:30-12:00. This free drive-thru clinic is open to all Tribal members and their households, as well as Tribal government staff and enterprise employees.
The Community Health testing station will be closed during the government holiday beginning Dec. 24 and will reopen on Jan. 4.
During that time, testing is available at a variety of locations in the area, including those listed here.
The American Indian Health Commission received confirmation that any member of a tribal or urban Indian community is eligible for COVID 19 Vaccine boosters.
Per Washington DOH’s news release Oct. 22, booster doses are now available for Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen.
AIHC asked the question for clarification of Who Is Eligible for a COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shot. AIHC asked for clarification to CDC’s guidance on booster eligibility criteria located in People with Certain Medical Conditions | CDC guidance which states any member of a Tribe or Urban Indian community would be eligible for COVID 19 Vaccine Boosters.
CDC responded they are “in agreement that based on this criteria any member of a tribal or urban Indian community would be eligible for boosters.”
Click here for more information.
You may have heard that a third (3) vaccine dose against COVID-19 is now available for those who are fully vaccinated. Here’s what we’ve learned:
- Anyone with a compromised immune system from cancer drugs, organ transplants, and so on can get a booster now. Check with your health care provider.
- For everyone else who received their second (2) dose of vaccinations at least 8 months ago, booster will be available beginning September 20. Since the Suquamish Tribe was very early in getting our community and employees vaccinated, that means many of us will be eligible. We will send out additional information about where you can receive the third (3) dose once that information becomes available in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, a top priority is to make sure everyone in our community has received the regular vaccinations. This is especially urgent at this time when cases are at the highest rate ever within the Tribal community, and local emergency room facilities are reaching capacity. Please, if you haven’t already, make sure everyone in your family 12 and above is vaccinated. Doing this will help us get back to school and daily activities safely.
Information on the third (3) vaccine dose is attached and for additional information please contact Suquamish Tribe Community Health or your primary health care provider.
Cherrie May, Manager
Office of Emergency Management
MODERNA & PFIZER VACCINE 3rd VACCINATION DOSE AGAINST COVID–19 FOR THOSE WHO ARE IMMUNOCOMPROMISED AND GENERAL PUBLIC
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has modified the emergency use authorizations for the Pfizer and the Moderna Covid-19 vaccines to allow people with compromised immune systems to get a third (3) dose. Public Health Officers are saying it is increasingly clear that many immunocompromised patients are still vulnerable to Covid-19 following vaccination because they may not get an effective immune response to the first 2 vaccinations.
According to the CDC, the list includes people who have:
- Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
- Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
- Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
- Advanced or untreated HIV infection
- Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response
It is highly recommended that you talk to their healthcare provider about your medical condition, and whether getting a third (3) dose is appropriate for you.
Why should immunocompromised people get a third (3) dose?
It’s harder for vaccines to rev up an immune system suppressed by certain medications and diseases, so those patients don’t always get the same protection as otherwise healthy people — and small studies suggest for at least some, an extra dose may be the solution.
When can eligible people get their third dose?
The FDA determined that transplant recipients and others with a similar level of compromised immunity can receive a third dose of the vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna at least 28 days after getting their second shot.
Are there any risks with getting a third dose? What about side effects?
The CDC reports there is “limited information about the risks of receiving an additional dose of vaccine, and the safety, efficacy, and benefit of additional doses of COVID-19 vaccine in immunocompromised people continues to be evaluated.”
CDC has noted that side effects with the third vaccination “were similar to that of the two-dose series.”
The most common symptoms include fatigue and pain at the injection site, but “most symptoms were mild to moderate.”
As with previous doses of the vaccine, the CDC notes that, “serious side effects are rare, but may occur.”
Can you mix and match the vaccines?
For people who received either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine series, a third dose of the same mRNA vaccine should be used. A person should not receive more than three mRNA vaccine doses. If the mRNA vaccine product given for the first two doses is not available or is unknown, either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine product may be administered.
When will COVID-19 third (3) dose be available for general public for those who have already received two (2) doses of a mRNA vaccine?
For people who have already received 2 doses of their mRNA vaccine you may receive a third (3) dose if you are 8 months out from your second (2) dose of mRNA beginning September 20, 2021.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House advisor and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, joins Leonard Forsman, Chairman of the Suquamish Tribe and President of the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, for an online discussion during ATNI’s annual spring gathering on May 24, 2021.
All Tribal youth or any youth living in North Kitsap aged 12 to 17 now eligible to receive Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine
UPDATE: The vaccination clinic for youth will be repeated on May 26. Make an appointment at https://bookpgst.timetap.com.
The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe and the Suquamish Tribe are partnering to host a COVID-19 Youth Vaccination Clinic on Monday, May 17 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Elders Center on the PGST government campus.
Tribal youth or any youth living in North Kitsap aged 12 – 17 are invited to get vaccinated at the clinic. An appointment is required and can be scheduled online at https://bookpgst.timetap.com. Vaccinations are provided free of charge.
There are 300 appointments available at this clinic. Participants will receive their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. A second follow-up shot will be provided three weeks later. All participants will be expected to return to the same location for their second dose on June 7.
Parental consent is required for anyone under the age of 18. Parents or legal guardians can accompany their child to the appointment or provide a signed consent form along with a phone number should they need to be reached. Consent forms are available for download after setting up an appointment.
The Pfizer vaccine was recently approved by the FDA, CDC, and Washington State Health Department for youth as young as 12 years old.
The two Kitsap County tribes have worked hard to vaccinate adult members of their communities, as well as local teachers, school district staff, and other neighbors. Now, they are coordinating to ensure area youth can get vaccinated as quickly as possible.
“We’ve understood from the beginning that the best way to protect our Tribe from COVID-19 is to ensure as many people as possible get vaccinated, especially those in our Tribal community, their close contacts, and our staff, neighbors, and friends,” said Jolene Sullivan, PGST’s Health Director, who has been on the front lines coordinating the Tribe’s response to the pandemic. “Being able to administer vaccines to young people is an exciting next step in helping us move forward towards a pandemic-free life and we’re happy to be able to play a role in that.”
“This clinic is a major step towards safeguarding our families, schools, and the whole community,” said Cherrie May, Suquamish Tribe’s Emergency Operations Center manager. “We’re excited that youth throughout North Kitsap will be joining adults in getting vaccinated, and we’re looking forward to when we can fully reopen schools, gather for cultural activities, and travel in safety.”
While, generally, younger people haven’t experienced the worst symptoms of COVID-19, experts agree that vaccinating this group protects everyone. This includes limiting the potential for asymptomatic spread and variants that may be resistant to current vaccines. In addition, while teens and young adults are less likely to die from COVID-19, long-term symptoms can be serious and significantly impact quality of life.
During clinical trials, the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer was 100% effective at preventing infection among those aged 12 – 15.
Appointments for the May 17 Youth Vaccination Clinic are being accepted now at https://bookpgst.timetap.com. After check-in and vaccination, each participant will be asked to remain on site for 15 minutes for observation to ensure no adverse side effects. The Port Gamble S’Klallam government campus is located at 31912 Little Boston Rd. NE in Kingston.
This vaccination clinic follows an earlier series of vaccination clinics in which both tribes administered Moderna vaccinations to North Kitsap School District teachers and staff.
About THE PORT GAMBLE S’KLALLAM TRIBE
The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, originally known as the Nux Sklai Yem or Strong People, are descendants of the Salish people who have been well-established in the Puget Sound basin and surrounding areas since 2400 B.C. In the late 1930s, the Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation, located on the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State, was established. Many of the Tribe’s members, who total about twelve hundred, still live there today.
For more information about the S’Klallam Tribe, please visit www.pgst.nsn.us.
About SUQUAMISH TRIBE The Suquamish Tribe is a federally recognized sovereign tribe located on the Port Madison Indian Reservation along the Puget Sound west of Seattle, Washington. D’suq’wub, meaning “place of the clear saltwater”, has been home to the Suquamish people since time immemorial. It is the ancient place on Agate Passage, the site of Old-Man-House village, the winter home of Chief Seattle and the heart of the Suquamish People. It is here, past, present, and future, that the Suquamish People live on the land of their ancestors and of their great-grandchildren.
SUQUAMISH, WA — The Suquamish Tribe will soon begin vaccinating essential staff and teachers at North Kitsap public schools under an agreement announced today.
Teachers and other staff will begin receiving the vaccinations on March 10th at the drive-thru clinic the Tribe set up in early January to vaccinate Tribal Elders and families, and the staff of the Tribal government and the Tribe’s business enterprises. The Tribe will vaccinate an estimated 600 of the School District’s 950 staff, including all who opt-in for the two-shot series. Vaccinating the teachers and other staff of the North Kitsap School District is the most ambitious expansion of the Suquamish Tribe’s vaccination program to date.
“Suquamish has a tradition of hospitality, and that extends to our commitment to the health of all that live around us,” said Suquamish Chairman Leonard Forsman. “Having vaccinated the majority of our Tribal citizens and their families, and government and enterprise employees, we expanded to offer shots to essential Kitsap 9-1-1 dispatch staff and to other American Indians living in Kitsap County who are not Suquamish Tribal members.”
“And today, we’re announcing a joint project with the North Kitsap School District to vaccinate teachers and staff, assuring that our community’s schools can reopen safely.”
When the North Kitsap School District staff learned of the news during a Zoom call this morning “the response was overwhelming,” according to Jenn Markaryan, North Kitsap School District Communications Coordinator. “Hands raised up in gratitude, and a system-wide sense of relief to have a definitive pathway to vaccination.”
“The Governor’s announcement yesterday was met with excitement, but left folks nervous because appointment availability is scarce,” she added. “It is truly a great day.”
Dr. Laurynn Evans, superintendent of the North Kitsap School District, said: “I want to express my deepest thanks to the Suquamish Tribe. I am grateful to the Tribe for providing this opportunity for NKSD employees, and I appreciate their ongoing partnership with NKSD to support our students, our staff, and our greater school community.”
Further extending its commitment to the community, the Tribe also plans to vaccinate residents of the Cedar Glen Mobile Home Park located on Highway 305, on the Port Madison Indian Reservation. Most of the residents are elderly and many have mobility issues that prevent them from accessing the COVID-19 vaccine.
Northwest Tribes have a long and devastating experience with pandemics. According to historian Robert Boyd, an estimated 30 percent of the Northwest Coast native population died from smallpox in the 1770s at a time when the Tribes were first in contact with European explorers. By the time settlers arrived in the 1850s, waves of measles, influenza, and additional outbreaks of smallpox had devastated tribal communities, reducing populations to an estimated quarter of their previous size.
Today’s COVID-19 pandemic has also been devastating to Tribal communities, with a mortality rate nationwide among Native Americans and Alaska Natives that is nearly twice the rate of non-Hispanic White people, according to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Suquamish Tribe took precautions early on, activating its Emergency Operations Center in March 2020. Tribal government offices were closed to the public, and staff worked from home or went on furloughs. These early actions helped the Tribal community and its employees to escape some of the worst of the pandemic impacts.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Tribal community health nurses have offered COVID-19 testing to the Tribal community and its employees on-demand and conducted contact tracing when a positive test has been received. The Tribe’s nurses also offer drive-thru flu vaccinations to avert the possibility of multiple illnesses spreading through the community.
The Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort was completely closed for nine weeks, until high-tech screening and COVID safety protocols could be put in place. The Casino Resort has since reopened with limited capacity, shorter hours, and thorough screening and safety protocols.
Beginning in early January 2021 — led by emergency managers, drawing on the expertise of Tribal police and with the help of staff from Tribal government and enterprises — the Tribe turned a floor of the Clearwater Casino parking garage into a drive-thru clinic, and mass vaccination began as soon as supplies of the Moderna vaccines became available.
First to be vaccinated were Tribal Elders, health care staff, and a handful of essential government workers. Tribal members and their families followed quickly, along with the staffs of the Tribal government and the Tribe’s business enterprises.
As of March 2, 2021, Suquamish Tribe Health nurses have administered 1,976 first doses, 1,247 second doses; for a combined total of 3,174 Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses. In addition to the doses administered to Suquamish Tribal households, this number includes:
- 288 of the Tribal government’s 385 employees, for a total of 75 percent of employees.
- 75 non-Suquamish Native American household members living within Kitsap County.
- 29 Kitsap 911 dispatchers and essential support staff.
As of the end of February, 73 percent of the Port Madison Enterprise’s 737 employees had been fully vaccinated; 82 percent have had one of the two-shot series.
In spite of the large numbers who have been vaccinated, Tribal government and business enterprise staff continue to wear masks and practice COVID safety protocols, while COVID-19 testing continues. The Emergency Management Office staff and Tribal leaders continue to monitor the situation as new developments arise with time.
All of these precautions have been costly to normal operation of businesses and government, and enormously time-consuming, and the precautions have forced the cancellation of cultural practices that are foundational to the Tribe’s way of life.
Nevertheless, taking aggressive, science-based action has helped keep the Tribal community, and those in surrounding the community, safer. Vaccinating the teachers and staff at North Kitsap Schools is a major additional step towards safeguarding the health of all residents of the larger community.
“Vaccinating the teachers and staff at the North Kitsap School District brings the area closer to the day when schools can fully reopen, which is an important first step in recovery for the whole community,” Forsman noted.
The following vaccine distribution approach was approved by Tribal Council in November.
The first delivery of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrived on Dec. 28. The next day, the Tribe received our medical standing orders allowing us to begin dispensing the vaccine. Our medical and support staff were then vaccinated so mass vaccinations could begin for our wider community.
The Emergency Operations Staff thank you for your patience and understanding as we move through this difficult time.
If you have any questions regarding this vaccine distribution approach, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org