Seabird Island members will be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine within the next few weeks.
In a recent message to the community, Chief Jim Harris shared that the band will be receiving doses of the Moderna vaccine within the next two to three weeks.
“The health authorities can call Seabird at any time to tell us, with just a few days notice, that they have a date for Seabird to get the vaccine,” Chief Harris said. “We don’t want to miss our opportunity for the vaccine.”
All Seabird Island members 18 years of age and older, including both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people living in the community, will be able to register for the vaccine. More information on how to register will be shared by the band in the coming days.
Everyone getting the vaccine during the Seabird Island roll out will require two doses of the Moderna vaccine. After the first intake, the second dose will be offered 30-35 days later.
Anyone missing the first dose offered by Seabird Island will be unable to get the second dose, and will have to wait until the vaccine is available for the general public.
There are currently 600 active cases of COVID-19 in the First Nations Health Authority, and it has seen 32 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
The health authority has delivered vaccines to 19 Indigenous communities this week. By the end of next week, that number is expected to be closer to 60. Regional health authorities, including Fraser Health, have added to vaccine allotments for Indigenous communities.
In a press conference today (Jan. 14), key members of the First Nations Health Authority shared these new numbers for the vaccine roll out, and also their concerns about the rise of anti-Indigenous racism connected to COVID-19.
Dr. Nel Wieman, the acting deputy chief medical officer, noted that in many cases tensions around COVID-19 has heightened existing conflicts towards Indigenous communities.
“We’re all in this together, and we’re going to have to move through this together, and there’s just no place for racism in anyone’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
During the press conference, acting chief medical officer Dr. Shannon McDonald also noted that the vaccine is not the golden ticket to pre-COVID times.
“The vaccine is not a panacea and it’s not magic,” she said. “It’s not the ticket to let go of some of the guidelines you’ve been given.”
Chief Harris’ video message to the community echoed that sentiment.
“Whether you get the vaccine or not, we still need to follow the COVID rules of no gathering, wearing a mask, keeping six feet or two metres apart and regularly washing our hands,” he said. “This needs to keep up until the rest of the country gets vaccinated.”
Anyone with questions about whether the vaccine is right for them should talk with their family doctor.
The Seabird health team and council will be holding a Zoom and Facebook meeting for members who have questions about the roll out process. These meetings will be held at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19, and Thursday, Jan. 21. More information on how to join those meetings will be shared with members in the coming days.
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