Over half of eligible Blood Tribe members have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on the Blood reserve. Anyone age 18 or older is eligible for the Moderna shot, and starting May 14, those 12 and older can receive the Pfizer vaccine.
Thursday, the immunization centre had 266 appointments booked — that’s not including walk-ins.
“We do have walk-ins, and we are not going to turn people away. There’s no way we would. We want people to get vaccinated. We’re here to serve the people,” says community health nurse, Jim Furguson.
The Blood Tribe Department of Health anticipates that the figure of more than 1,500 members who received their second dose, is much higher, with people taking advantage of walk-ins, off of the reserve.
“For whatever reason, maybe they live in Lethbridge, or in other areas…Pincher Creek. We don’t know for sure. Our stats could be way higher,” adds Ferguson.
The First Nations reserve has also expanded its immunizations to the Laverne Health Centre, as well as the town of Cardston. Health officials are encouraged by the amount of doses administered, but say barriers like transportation can impact those wanting to be vaccinated. The reserve is working on education, by canvassing door to door — asking questions, and getting the word out.
“Going door to door to inquire…to see how many members may have been vaccinated, and those that might not, (and) need to be vaccinated,” says CEO of the Blood Tribe department of health, Derrick Fox.
With the ongoing drug crisis, on top of the pandemic, Blood Tribe Emergency Services says they’ve had to think outside the box to make sure the virus doesn’t spread into detox services — they have been successful with just one positive case in that area.
“Essential services has really stepped up and been able to assist with this pandemic, and we haven’t had any down time,” says director of essential services, Kara Eagle Bear.
The latest numbers say there are 20 active cases of COVID-19 on the reserve, and two in the ICU.