Updated: December 13, 2020 10:15 PM
Created: December 13, 2020 08:01 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Navajo Nation is expecting to receive around 12,000 COVID-19 vaccines this coming week, starting with Pfizer.
On Monday, nearly 4,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine will be delivered to the Indian Medical Center in Gallup to be distributed to other key health care centers across the Navajo Nation. The vaccines will then be sent to hospitals and other facilities on the Nation that are ready to administer the vaccines.
The Navajo Nation Police will be escorting the transports.
“We are looking at these vaccines coming onto the Navajo nation and being distributed from the point of delivery out to the seven service units throughout the Navajo Nation in New Mexico and Arizona,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.
An additional 9,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine could arrive within a week of Pfizer’s shipment if the FDA approves it for emergency use.
When the vaccines arrive, Group 1-A—which is comprised of health care workers, EMS staff, and people in nursing homes— will receive their doses first.
The second group to receive the vaccine, Group 1-B, will include people with underlying medical conditions, and people who deliver food and supplies.
Next, Group 1-C will receive the vaccine and will include people with underlying medical conditions, and people who are 65 and older.
After all those groups are vaccinated, the Navajo Nation will offer them to the public.
“That could be the spring or even the early summer of next year,” President Nez said.
President Nez said tribal leaders are pushing to get as many vaccines as early as possible.
“Native Americans were hit hard. Native Nations were hit hard as a result of this pandemic,” Nez said. “Navajo is one because of our people being in that most vulnerable population category. High rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers, so what we did here on the Navajo Nation to fight this virus was really put strict restrictions in place.”
The Navajo Nation was heavily involved in the vaccine process with Pfizer. Nez spoke with Pfizer’s CEO last week about the vaccine rollout and said the CEO will be joining one of the Nation’s upcoming town hall meetings to discuss the results of the vaccine trial and the Nation’s involvement.
“Over 200 people here on the Navajo Nation volunteered for the clinical trials, so of those, over 200 people who took the clinical trials, 80 percent were Navajo,” he said.
The Pfizer vaccine will be administered in two doses. Tribal health leaders said the first shipment only has the first dose. The second companion dose will arrive in about 20 days.
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