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 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.

Suquamish Tribe 2020 COVID-19 Testing Site: Holiday Closure Schedule

The Tribal Government offices, and therefore the Tribal Covid-19 testing site, will be closed Dec. 18 – Jan. 3, 2020.

We will resume testing on:

Monday, Jan. 4, 2021 from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm


The following list includes other testing sites that can be used.  We have called and verified the information, however, we recommend you call first.  Be sure you take your insurance cards.


Immediate Clinic Poulsbo

(360) 779-7011

COVID-19 testing center

Appointment required- schedule appointment online

Referral not required

Testing for all patients

Hours: 8am-8pm


Franciscan Medical Clinic- Bainbridge Island

COVID-19 testing center

Appointment required- call (206) 201-0488 to schedule

Referral not required

Testing for all patients


M-F: 7am-6:30pm, Sa-Sun: 8am-4:30pm

Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

Open until noon Christmas Eve

Open until 5pm New Year’s Eve


The Doctors Clinic Ridgetop East

(360) 782-3400

COVID-19 testing center

Appointment not required

Referral not required

Testing people with COVID symptoms or recent/probable exposure


M-F: 9am-7pm, Sa-Sun: 9am-5pm

Closed Christmas


Harrison Belfair Urgent Care

(360) 277-2975

COVID-19 testing center

Appointment not required

Referral not required

Testing for all patients


M-F: 7:30am-7:30pm, Sa-Sun 7:30am-7:30pm

Christmas: 9am-4pm


Kitsap County Community COVID testing sites:

Appointment required for Kitsap County community COVID testing. Register online here or by phone at (360) 728-2235.


Kitsap County Fairgrounds

1336  NW Fairgrounds Rd

Bremerton, WA

Center the grands by Gordon Field

Monday to Thursday 10am -3pm



Kitsap Conference Center

Bremerton Harborside Parking Garage  level 2 green

100 Washington Ave

Tuesday only 10am to 3pm



Poulsbo City Hall

200 Moe Street NE


Friday only 9am to 2:30



Suquamish Government Picks Moderna Vaccine for Distribution to Tribal Community

Tribe Now Entering Critical Period to Prevent Spread of Disease

The Suquamish Tribal Council, following the recommendation of the Tribe’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Barbara Hoffman, has decided to provide the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Tribal membership and staff as it becomes available.

The Moderna vaccine is expected to gain approval for emergency use from the Food and Drug Administration this week. While it remains unclear how quickly mass vaccinations will begin, Tribal officials expect the first small batches of doses to begin arriving shortly after the New Year with additional supplies increasing over the following weeks.

Tribal officials have prioritized vaccinations to Elders and those most at-risk from COVID-19, as well as continuity of government to ensure leaders and critical staff are able to keep distribution moving.

“We’re starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but that tunnel is still pretty long,” says EOC Manager Cherrie May. “It will still be several months before we can get everyone vaccinated.”

That’s why it is so important for everyone to continue staying focused on preventing the spread of the virus.

“Wear your masks, keep your distances, and please – please – don’t gather outside your immediate households. I know that will be hard during the holidays, but it is so important. We really can pull together right now, by staying apart.”

Kitsap County and the Suquamish Tribe, like much of the country, is seeing a surge in positive cases. The spike is largely attributed to extended families and friends gathering together for Thanksgiving.

“Let’s not make that same mistake here over Christmas and New Year’s,” says May. “The risk is too big. The consequences are too severe. The lives of our loved ones are at stake.”


Picking Moderna

Meanwhile, Tribal staff are hard at work preparing for vaccine distribution.

The Tribal Council had the choice of two vaccines — one offered by Pifzer and the other by Moderna.

“In close consultation with our medical experts, we determined the Moderna vaccine provided the best option for our community,” says Hoffman.

The vaccines are more similar than they are different, with the exception of how they are stored

The Moderna vaccine is about 95 percent effective. It requires two doses, about a month apart, to achieve that high level of effectiveness.  This is a new type of vaccine that helps people create virus-fighting antibodies without actually infecting them with COVID-19.

And, finally, some people will feel the same short-term, flu-like side effects from either vaccine. Health experts at FDA and CDC stress that most side effects are a sign that the vaccine is working as intended.

Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, which has more demanding frozen storage and distribution protocols, Moderna’s vaccine can be stored four degrees below zero, which is a standard freezer temperature. After it’s thawed, it can be administered for up to 30 days.

“The logistics of providing the vaccine to the entire Tribal community will be unprecedented for us,” says May. “A lot of work is going into planning and preparing for that, so getting the increased flexibility that Moderna gives us is huge.”


Side effects are a good sign

They may not feel like it at the time, but most side effects from the vaccine are a good thing, say health experts.

“They show the body is doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing,” says Suquamish Tribe’s Public Health Officer Dr. Barbara Hoffman. “It shows that your immune system is working by creating the antibodies you need to fight off the disease.”

Potential side effects include pain or swelling at the injection site, muscle and joint aches, fever, nausea, and headache.

“The most common side effects noted in vaccine trials were pain and swelling at the injection site,” says Hoffman. “For most study participants, side effects were mild to moderate and subsided within one to three days.

But don’t worry if you don’t feel those side effects, she says. “It’s still working. The vast majority of those who get both doses – and it’s really important everyone gets both doses – will be protected.”

Pull Together

A message from Suquamish Tribal Elders on the importance of pulling together during this most dangerous hour of the pandemic by doing everything we can to stay safely apart.


Suquamish Tribe Prepares Groundwork for Vaccine Distribution

Phased approach puts priority on most vulnerable

A Suquamish Tribe team headed up by Emergency Operations Manager Cherrie May is hard at work preparing for an unprecedented effort to vaccinate everyone in the Tribe who wants to be protected from COVID-19.

While there are still many unknowns, the Suquamish Tribe’s Vaccine Planning Committee drafted a vaccine distribution approach that was approved by the Tribal Council at their Nov. 23 meeting.

“The goal is to have a general approach in place so that when the vaccine arrives we are ready to hit the ground running as fast, efficiently, and safely as possible,” said May. “We’ve developed a phased approach that puts the priority on our most vulnerable Tribal members while keeping the government functioning so we can get the vaccine out to everyone else.”

The Vaccination Planning Committee includes May, the Suquamish Tribe’s Acting Co-Executive Director Jamie Goobie, Tribal Public Health Officer Dr. Barbara Hoffman, Tribal Attorney Melody Allen, Suquamish Chief Police Mike Lasnier, Early Learning Center Nurse Renee Hommel, and Communications Coordinator Jon Anderson.

“The Committee is working with a lot of uncertainty tied to the vaccines, but we have been doing our best to think through a variety of intertwining issues,” says May.

Among the questions, unknowns, and issues the Tribe is grappling with:

  • Which of the two leading vaccines the Tribe will decide to provide.
  • How many doses of the vaccine will the Tribe get initially and in follow-up batches.
  • The logistics of receiving, storing, and administering two doses of a vaccine to thousands of Tribal members, families, and employees.

The Pfizer vaccine, for example, is expected to be the first released for use, but is shipped only in large batches of doses and it must be stored at -80 degrees. Once thawed it must be kept cold and administered within six hours.  It also will require two doses to be effective

“Whether the Tribe will be able to access to this vaccine and be able to administer it has not been ruled out yet as we are stilling waiting on some answers from the Department of Health to some of these very questions,” says Hoffman, who was appointed as Tribal Health Officer by Tribal Council last month.

The Moderna vaccine is next in line for potential distribution and will likely begin to be available starting in January.

This vaccine also requires two shots but is easier to store and provides more time to administer once thawed, says Hoffman.

“Regardless of which vaccine the Tribe first receives, we do not expect to get a large number of doses in the first batch.  We also don’t know how many doses will be provided over time for mass vaccination,” says Hoffman.

Given all the unknowns, vaccine distribution will happen in phases, and Suquamish health officials will need flexibility to accommodate the uncertainties, she says.

“The approach is based on two key priorities – continuity of government and health vulnerability of Tribal members,” says Hoffman.

The first group, which is likely to be a small group, includes individuals needed to make sure the Tribal government can continue to operate – Tribal Council, for example – and high-risk essential employees who are in constant, direct contact with members of the community, particularly those who are especially vulnerable.

“So that would include nurses, in-home care providers for Elders, community health representatives, case managers and others in the direct line of fire who have been who are at high risk of exposure to the virus every day,” says Tribal Attorney Allen. “These are people who provide care to our most vulnerable.”

The next group includes all Tribal elders, as well as moderate-risk, but essential workers.

That group will be immediately followed by all remaining Tribal members and member households.

The last group to receive vaccinations will be remaining Tribal Government staff and Tribal Enterprise workers.

“We are still working out the logistics while not knowing when and how many doses the Tribe will receive,” said May. ”As we’ve been doing all along, we are planning with flexibility to avoid any logistical and/or medical problems and so we are ready to hit the ground running as soon as the vaccine is released.”

Tribal leaders urge anyone with questions or concerns to email

As the situation develops and more details become available, Tribal members will be notified via the Tribe’s website and Suquamish Updates Now (SUN). If you haven’t signed up yet, or need to update your information, you can do that here.

Tribal Court Suspends Jury Trials

The Suquamish Tribal Court is suspending jury trials until further notice.

The move is in response to the widening outbreak of COVID-19 throughout the region.

“COVID-19 rates have increased dramatically in Kitsap County in the recent weeks,” reads the Dec. 1 order, signed by Chief Judge Cindy K. Smith. “After considering the Tribe’s current COVID-19 operational policy, (Non-Pharmaceutical Protection) procedures, and current information from both Kitsap County and Washington State Departments of Health, the Emergency Operations Center does not approve resuming jury trials at this time.”

The order indicates scheduling of jury trials will resume on Feb. 1.

Meanwhile, probation appointments will be conducted by phone, or as directed by the probation officer.

You can read the full order here.