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.”