Siksika Nation received its first shift shipment of 100 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 31, and these first doses were administered on Jan. 1 to Siksika elders, lodge residents and frontline health workers.
“We are pleased to see that a safe and effective vaccine has been developed so quickly and made available to our most vulnerable Nation members and their care providers,” said Chief Ouray Crowfoot, in a Siksika Nation news release. “Our Health Services continue to plan for a staged roll-out of additional vaccine to other priority groups in the near future.”
The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine in Alberta is an opportunity to help slow the spread of the virus and ensure the most vulnerable and at-risk populations throughout the province are protected from COVID-19, said Tyler White, corporate executive officer of Siksika Health Services.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recognized First Nations as a priority population for COVID-19 immunization. Alberta is prioritizing the COVID-19 vaccine for seniors’ continuing care facilities. Due to Siksika Nation advocacy with federal and provincial governments, the Siksika Elders Lodge was included as one of the priority sites.
The COVID-19 vaccine has created hope for Siksika Nation Elders, said Floria Duck Chief, Siksika Nation Elder.
“Aikimmotsiiyika in Blackfoot means take care of each other and we will do just that by getting immunized,” she said.
The vaccination program in Siksika Nation is planned as a staged roll-out to other priority groups, as additional vaccines become available. However, Siksika Nation is not commenting on the timing and allocation of these vaccinations, until information is provided from Indigenous Services Canada and Alberta Health Services (AHS).
As the province receives more shipments of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this month, immunization is being focused on residents of long-term care and designated supportive living facilities, followed by seniors aged 75 and over and residents of First Nations aged 65 and over. Vaccination of front-line health care workers and continuing care staff is ongoing.
The province received 16,900 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 29. Unlike the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine that requires storage at extremely low temperatures (about -70 degrees Celsius), the Moderna vaccine is stored at typical freezer temperatures, around -20 degrees Celsius. That makes the Moderna vaccine more suitable for transport to continuing care sites throughout the province.
Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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