Vaccine Update: Booster Shots

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.

Thank you,

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.

 

Suquamish Tribe Chairman and ATNI President Leonard Forsman interviews Dr. Anthony Fauci

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.

 

S’Klallam Tribe and Suquamish Tribe Host Youth Vaccination Clinic on May 17 and May 26

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 Tribe to Vaccinate North Kitsap School District Staff and Teachers

 

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.

 

Suquamish Tribe Vaccine Distribution Approach

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 covid_questions@suquamish.nsn.us

Suquamish Tribe Prepares to Vaccinate General Membership

COVID-19 Vaccinations continue for Tribal Elders

The Suquamish Tribe Government was notified its second 600-dose shipment of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is on the way and should arrive next week.

That shipment will come just as the Tribe is wrapping up distribution of the first 600-dose lot of vaccines that it began administering to Tribal Elders on Jan. 4. A small group of medical and support staff needed to distribute the vaccine began getting their vaccines on Dec. 30.

The new shipment sets the stage to begin vaccinating the Tribe’s general membership next week. “We should be able to begin vaccinating general Tribal membership households starting on Jan. 14” May said. “That timeline hinges on our next round of doses arriving as we’ve been promised,” she added.

Meanwhile, most Elders – all Tribal members 55 years old and above, as well as their spouses/partners – who want the vaccine are expected to be vaccinated by the end of this week. Additional front-line Tribal staff and first responders are also receiving the vaccine.

“Our next focus will be on vaccinating the Tribal staff needed to provide essential services and support to our Tribal people,” said May.

That will include members of the Tribe’s Human Services Department, which is responsible for Elder care, veterans services, assistance programs, and health benefits, among others. Staff at the Marion Forsman-Boushie Early Learning Center and Chief Kitsap Academy will also be among the next round of vaccinations, as well as Suquamish Seafoods operations.

“We’ve got to get the teachers and childcare providers inoculated so that our people with kids can work,” said May. “The immediate priority now, over the next few days, is on getting vaccinations to those who provide essential services to Tribal members and keep the government running.”

After Tribal households are vaccinated, remaining government staff will receive their shots.

Suquamish Tribe interim Co-executive Director Scott Crowell noted the Tribe has been able to get vaccinations moving to its members with record speed, with more doses now being ordered weekly.

Indeed, for the rest of Washington State, the vast majority of vaccination efforts are still focused on getting health care providers inoculated while health districts grapple with the logistics and training needed for rolling mass vaccinations.

“We were able to get our first 600 doses pretty quickly. If we are able to get more doses at that rate, I think we should be able to have everyone vaccinated – hopefully – by the end of January,” said Crowell.

Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman said the speed with which the Tribe has been able to begin delivering vaccines is directly connected to weeks of hard work by Tribal staff.

“I’d like to emphasize all the planning that’s made this process so smooth,” said Forsman. “My hands are up to the people in the Human Services Department and Emergency Operation Center. I’m really impressed with all the hard work they had to do, even during the Christmas holiday, to get this set up. The EOC, headed up by Cherrie May, and Human Services led by Nehreen Ayub, and also the important work of our Community Health nurse, Dr. Barbara Hoffman, have all done a great job coordinating staff to make this vaccination a great success so far.”

COVID-19 Vaccination Resources

Suquamish Tribe has begun COVID-19 vaccinations. The following resources are intended to help answer questions and provide resources to Tribal members and their families. Click on the links to view the documents. Each link will bring up a PDF, so you can also save to your computer for printing or viewing later.

COVID-19 Vaccination – What to Expect
Because COVID-19 is a new disease requiring new vaccines, you may have questions about what happens before, during, and after your vaccination appointment. These tips outline what to expect when you get vaccinated, what information your provider will give you, and what resources you can use to monitor your health after you are vaccinated.

Moderna Vaccine – 10 Quick FAQs
Here’s a quick one-sheet Q&A on the Moderna vaccine, which is the specific vaccine Suquamish Tribal Council has decided to provide.

COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions
Got more questions? We’ve got more answers! Here’s a more lengthy Q&A rundown. If you still have unanswered questions – or have concerns or comments – email Covid_Questions@suquamish.nsn.us and the appropriate Tribal Government staff member will respond as soon as possible.

Vaccination Screening and Consent Form
You will need to read and sign this form will prior to getting your vaccination. A copy will be provided at the vaccination site, but if you want to save time, you can print it out and sign it now.

V-safe Information Sheet
V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Through v-safe, you can quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may call to check on you. And v-safe will remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose. Click here to learn more.

Tribe welcomes New Year with COVID-19 Vaccinations

 

As the sun sets on 2020, the Suquamish Tribe begins COVID-19 vaccinations.

A small group of healthcare providers and support staff received their first doses this week. That sets the stage for mass vaccinations, starting with Tribal Elders, beginning on Monday, Jan. 4.

In this New Year’s Eve video, Interim Suquamish Tribe Co-Directors Scott Crowell and Jamie Gooby provide details on how vaccinations for the Tribe will unfold in the coming days and weeks as the Tribe looks forward to 2021.