By Morgan Taylor, Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – Various members of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council get their first round of the Coronavirus vaccine including Muskogee District Representative Joyce Deere, Okmulgee District Representative William Lowe, and Wagoner District Representative Charles McHenry.
Representative Joyce Deere received her first round of the vaccine on Dec. 23, at the Koweta Indian Health Center in Coweta, OK.
It was in early Dec., when Deere learned she would have an opportunity to get the vaccination and just a week or two later received an email asking for her participation.
“We were sent an email before asking if we wanted to take the shot,” Deere said. “I requested at that time to do it, that I would participate.”
After her reply to the email, she received a call on Dec. 22 asking her to be at the Koweta Clinic the next morning.
“For me it was like taking a flu vaccine,” Deere explains. “I know there is always a chance for some type of reaction. We don’t really know if it’s going to be us or anybody. Of course, we hope that no one has a bad reaction to it but there’s always a chance though I didn’t have any reservations about it.”
Deere claims she was not nervous to get the shot and had no side effects, “I had no reaction except a little soreness just like any other shot,” Deere said.
As of right now, the vaccination is not a mandate but Deere claims it is a part of her responsibility.
“I think it’s each persons choice and I’m glad they have the choice, but I feel like its important, it’s a recommendation from the medical field and this is what we have been waiting for,” Deere said. “We all hope this vaccine will help the virus numbers go down. I would recommend taking the vaccine myself.”
Mid-pandemic, Deere was exposed at one time and was tested with negative results.
“I would not have believed that this has gone on as long as it has,” Deere said. “For a full year we have had to change the way we’ve done business and it’s made it hard on the majority of the country, not just Creek Nation. I hope we can get back to what was normal to us before, sooner than later.”
On Monday Dec. 28, MCN National Council Representative William Lowe received his Covid-19 vaccination at the Okmulgee Hospital parking lot drive through vaccination service.
As a Marine Representative Lowe had been given many vaccinations throughout his military career and claims he had no side effects to the Covid-19 vaccine.
“I’ve become somewhat of professional vaccine taker,” Representative Lowe said jokingly. “My wife got vaccinated at the same time I did and she experienced some redness and soreness on her arm where she was vaccinated.”
When vaccinations became available Representative Lowe was concerned for those at-risk and elderly citizens.
“I wanted to make sure they were a priority,” Representative Lowe said.
“When we were in our National Council meeting and the Secretary of Health mentioned National Council as a Tier 1, that’s when I knew I was going to get it,” Representative Lowe said. “Regardless of what the media says, I think the vaccination is a good preventive for this.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Representative Lowe has avoided the virus and hasn’t experienced symptoms of any sort.
Representative Lowe says it is priority in his role of leadership to get vaccinated.
“I think for myself as a tribal legislator it is very important not only to show that it’s okay and set the standard for my district, but I’m living proof that a vaccination doesn’t harm you.”
As Representative Lowe just approached his one-year anniversary on the National Council, he hopes the council can resume to in-person meetings at some point after vaccinations are distributed.
“Of course, we go by the guidance of our health department, I would like to see us go back,” Representative Lowe said. “I think our last in-person meeting was in March so we have had about nine months of video meetings which gets the job done and you still have the opportunity to voice your opinion but to me it’s that being in-person and getting to know more about the people and tribal citizens.”
Representative Lowe has used his own social medias as outlets to reach out to citizens about vaccinations as well as letting the people know he is vaccinated himself.
Sharing his experience is one way the Representative can encourage citizens to get vaccinated even for those who have reservations about vaccinations.
“Getting over that fear and getting the vaccination is vital,” Representative Lowe exclaims. “When you get there, nurses and staff are available and ready to answer any questions one may have about the vaccine and I would advise citizens to ask them and explain their concerns.”
The Representative claims, “it’s just like getting a flu vaccine or any other vaccine.”
Representative Charles McHenry received his first vaccination at the Koweta Indian Health Center on Jan. 7.
Though Representative McHenry has not had the flu vaccine before, he had no prior reservations or nervousness going in to get his Covid-19 shot.
“I didn’t even realize they had given me the vaccine,” Representative McHenry said. “There was no poke, no prick, no nothing! Next thing I knew they were done. They rubbed this thing on my arm then it was over.”
Representative McHenry wants the citizens to know that it’s okay.
“We just want to be the ones to take the first steps and say ‘Hey, were doing it,” Representative McHenry said. “I didn’t have any nervousness or any apprehensions about it but I feel like as we move forward it’s probably the best thing for us.”
It was just a week before that Representative McHenry found his opportunity to get vaccinated, “I knew that the opportunity was coming up and that’s when I knew I was going take it.”
Once vaccines are distributed, Representative McHenry hopes to return to an in-person setting.
“I am totally looking forward to it and I think the vast majority of people are looking for ward to it,” Representative McHenry said. “As long as it’s safe, as long as it healthy, I am totally for it. I think with time, once we see the success of the vaccine it will start to open up a lot of things for us.”
Citizens and patients can call the automated line for 24-hour information on distribution or to sign up for the vaccine with the Covid-19 Vaccination Hotline at 918-758-3601.