Lennox Island First Nation kicks off COVID-19 vaccination clinics
'We really do need to build immunity in our community because we are a vulnerable population'
Lennox Island First Nation in Prince Edward Island began a COVID-19 vaccination campaign Friday for residents 18 and over that aims to get everyone inoculated over the next week.
The federal government has made vaccinating Indigenous people a priority. They are 3½ to five times more vulnerable to COVID-19, said Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, referencing figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that show some Native American communities have been ravaged by the coronavirus.
About 20 people were vaccinated Friday, including elders and members of the band council.
"It's so important, like, we really do need to build immunity in our community because we are a vulnerable population," said Chief Darlene Bernard, who received her first dose Friday.
To make sure everyone in the community knew about the clinic, members went door to door to give out flyers and posted on social media. So far, 130 people have made appointments.
Bernard said she has heard some hesitation about getting vaccinated, but said the vaccine is safe and necessary.
"I just feel extremely blessed that we are on P.E.I. and that we were able to get this vaccine so early and nice, and we'll have it all done really quickly," she said. "I'm very excited."
The clinics will be held four days next week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. There are 200 doses of the vaccine available.
Band members who want to make an appointment can call the Lennox Island Health Centre.
Off-reserve band members may also come get vaccinated, Bernard stressed.
"I think that's great, it's just another way to erase those colonial lines," she said.
Marilyn Sark said she felt fine after getting her shot Friday, and said she felt relieved to begin achieving immunity.
"Protection for myself, my family, other people in the community," Sark said. "I hope most people will take advantage of it and get the vaccine."
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With files from Brittany Spencer