“We would like to see the vaccination rates increase across the state, but specifically we want to see vaccination rates across the MCN reservation increase,” -MCNDH Chief Performance Officer Shoneen Alexander Ross
Lani Hansen/Senior Reporter
JENKS, Oklahoma– The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health hosted two drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination events at Jenks Middle School in July.
The FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to pediatrics early in the summer to start preparing for back to school. MCNDH began distributing vaccinations to the younger population back in May. The vaccine dosage remained the same as what the adults received. MCNDH saw a number of COVID cases rising and scheduled events with schools.
The first dose of the vaccine was given at Jenks MS July 8 and the second dose was given July 26. Students, families and community member’s ages 12 and older received the Pfizer vaccine. Students between the ages of 12 and 17 had to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
“We continue to encourage the vaccination be accepted in that age group of 12 to 15, we are still seeing lots of folks who are unvaccinated,” MCNDH Chief Performance Officer Shoneen Alexander Ross said. “We want to make sure that they are able to get their vaccine prior to going back to school, so we are continuing to partner with schools.”
According to Ross, 109 doses were distributed on the July 8 event and 120 vaccinations during the July 26 event.
The Jenks event made it the fourth school partnership for MCNDH in this particular area of the Mvskoke Reservation. They have also partnered with Bristow, Sand Springs and Glenpool.
In scheduling these vaccine events with the schools, MCNDH spoke with then acting Secretary of Education Sarah Price to see if she could direct them to the schools in the reservation boundaries.
“We wanted to reach out to that group to say ‘we are here, we know that there is going to be students in your school system that are probably unvaccinated and we would like to partner with you on an event,” Ross said. “So we held a couple of zoom calls with the school leaders, and through that group we were able to schedule these events. A couple of the small schools want to do an event right before school starts.”
The school events were open to Native and non-Native members of each community. Ross said getting the vaccination helps make the environment safer for all. MCNDH knew both Native and non-Native students would be sharing the classroom and wanted to make sure to vaccinate those who wanted to be.
As of July 19, they have administered 33,046 total of the COVID-19 vaccination. The number of vaccinations administered will increase as they continue to go out into the communities or when people come in to the clinic.
“We would like to see the vaccination rates increase across the state, but specifically we want to see vaccination rates across the MCN reservation increase,” Ross said. “We have plans to continue to give the vaccine as long as we get it.”
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, as of July 27 there were 733 new COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma with 9,177 active cases in the state and a total of 66 cases in Okmulgee County.
With COVID cases rising again, MCNDH strongly encourages anyone regardless of age to get vaccinated. For more information about getting vaccinated visit, www.creekhealth.org.