Deputy Grand Chief Walter Naveau spoke about the plans to deliver Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations in Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) communities during his WRN (Wawatay Radio Network) update.
“Hopefully one day in the future we will be free to travel about and we can put this all behind us,” Naveau says. “The COVID-19 vaccine is starting to become available in the region and a lot of people are working very hard to get our (citizens) and communities ready.”
Naveau says NAN, the federal and provincial governments and a range of organizations across NAN territory have been working on information about the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and distribution plans for the NAN communities.
“We will make sure everyone in our communities understands this material, which will be translated into Cree, (Anishinabemowin) and Oji-Cree,” Naveau says. “This material will be posted on the NAN COVID-19 website, nancovid19.ca, social media and broadcasted on Wawatay Radio. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to keep doing everything possible to keep yourselves and our communities safe until the vaccine arrives.”
Naveau says the goal is to complete the COVID-19 vaccinations in the 31 remote fly-in communities by April 30.
“Any individual who enters NAN communities as part of the vaccine rollout (must) have already received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine prior to entering the communities,” Naveau says. “Those who enter the communities as part of the vaccine rollout will also have received cultural sensitivity training prior to entering the communities.”
Naveau says the smallest and most remote communities will be prioritized and the wishes of any community that does not feel ready to be vaccinated will be respected.
“An operation centre will be established to monitor aircraft going in and out of NAN communities and will be able to provide updates to chiefs and councils on a daily basis,” Naveau says. “Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay and Timmins will be hubs, meaning that the vaccine will be transported from central locations to the hubs, where they can be stored and transferred to communities. Moosonee is a hub for the James Bay coastal area.”
Naveau says community coordinators will help to identify which citizens need to receive their vaccinations first.
“Individuals who did not receive a (COVID-19 vaccination) dose during the first (vaccination) visit will be able to receive it during the second visit,” Naveau says. “A plan will be put into place to leave vaccine in the nursing station to ensure they receive their second dose.”
Naveau says vaccinations have already been provided to long-term care residents in Sioux Lookout and in communities along the James Bay coast.
“The COVID-19 Moderna vaccine is our best chance to end this coronavirus pandemic,” Naveau says. “Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the spread and reduce the impact of COVID-19. It is important to remember that only vaccines that are effective and safe are approved by Health Canada.”
Naveau says the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine does not cause a coronavirus infection.
“It helps to build up our body’s ability to fight off the virus,” Naveau says, noting it is an mRNA vaccine. “RNA stands for ribonucleic acid, which is a molecule that provides cells with instructions for making proteins. These vaccines teach our cells how to make copies of the coronavirus spike proteins that are harmless to us and do not cause disease, which creates an immune response if we have become infected with the virus.”
Naveau says a strategy is also being developed for the vaccination of Indigenous people in urban centres that utilizes Indigenous health centres or local public health units.
Naveau’s WRN update is posted online at: nancovid19.ca/?cat=62.