Giving Compass' Take:
- The Navajo Nation's vaccination program was able to vaccinate half of its adult members against COVID-19.
- How can donors help bolster these efforts to support the Navajo Nation?
- Learn about the Navajo Water Project.
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More than half of the adult members of Navajo Nation have been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a press release.
The 300,000-member strong community has surpassed the general rate of vaccination in the United States, which stands at around 36.5%, according to the CDC. The Navajo Nation’s accelerated effort to achieve COVID-19 immunity stems in part from its struggles with the virus last year. At one point, the tribe had the highest per-capita rate of COVID-19 infections in the country.
“The pandemic has led to many challenges, but it is also making us stronger and giving us renewed appreciation for our blessings in life,” Myron Lizer, vice president of Navajo Nation, said in the press release. “We have to continue to pray for more strength every day and keep supporting one another. We are in this together and we are overcoming this pandemic day by day.”
The Navajo Nation’s vaccination program gained early community support because of the devastating toll the virus took on its members, according to the New York Times.
The rampant spread of the virus highlighted inequalities that exist across the territory, including a lack of health care facilities, clean water access, and electricity access. Because many homes lacked reliable access to water, stringent hygiene protocols were often difficult to maintain.
These structural inequalities were worsened by delays in federal relief funding.
Now, however, an additional $31 billion has been allocated to tribal nations on top of the first round of emergency aid. Part of this money has been used to fund the vaccination effort, which has taken a multipronged approach.
The tribal government coordinated a public outreach campaign to ensure tribal members knew what to expect with the vaccine and could ask questions. This campaign also communicated where and when vaccines would be given.
There are 12 primary health centers scattered throughout Navajo Nation that serve as key vaccination sites. Other large-scale facilities such as casinos have become vaccine sites as well. Health workers are also conducting at-home vaccinations to reach elderly residents and those who are unable to drive, according to Navajo Times.
Read the full article about COVID-19 vaccinations in the Navajo Nation by Joe McCarthy at Global Citizen.