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Nation on track with vaccine distribution

WINDOW ROCK

As Navajo Nation health authorities reported 16 more deaths from COVID-19 Friday, President Jonathan Nez said as of Tuesday the Navajo Nation has received 26,455 doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and 20,398 have been administered.

That number may have increased since vaccines were given out to seniors 65 and over up until Friday throughout the Navajo Nation. Also on Friday, 121 more people tested positive for COVID-19 and the death toll reached 908. Reports indicate that 13,510 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 221,512 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 26,073.

Although the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines on the Navajo Nation is moving more quickly than in most states, there is still the concern of the new variant, B 1.1.7, that was recently found to have made its way to Bernalillo County in New Mexico.

Dr. Michael Edwards of the New Mexico Department of Health said they were able to identify and confirm the new variant strain.

“We have a case in New Mexico,” said Edwards. “This was associated with travel. This individual did not pick up this new strain in New Mexico. There is no associated contacts within the state.”

He explained that B 1.1.7 strain is one of many strains that have been seen throughout the course of the pandemic. This variant spreads more easily and quickly than other variants. Currently, there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.

“Its important to note that there is no evidence that this causes in severity of infection, said Edwards. “There’s no evidence this will have any difference on the vaccines. All of us can rest assured that it’s important to continue to work with our health care providers in getting everyone vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Cpt. Brian Johnson, Acting Deputy Director of the Navajo Area Indian Health Services, said the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are the safest, most effective, and most reliable way to keep your family and yourself safe from COVID-19. He said misinformation about the vaccines, which is reported to be around 90 percent effective and has gone through a multitude of safety tests, is troublesome.

“There is some misinformation that is out,” said Johnson. “I want to encourage you to make sure when you’re hearing or receiving this information that you’re getting it from a reputable source.”

Indian Health Service across the country has received 290,900 COVID-19 vaccine doses as of Wednesday. The Navajo Nation has administered about 77 percent of its share of the vaccine, mostly to health workers and senior citizens.

Even after receiving the vaccine, people are Advised to wear masks, social distance, wash or sanitize hands, and avoid gatherings.

The Navajo Nation’s 57-hour weekend lockdown remains in effect. All Navajo Nation residents are required to remain home for the duration of the 57-hour weekend lockdown, with the exception of essential workers who are required to report to work and cases of emergencies.


About The Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council and Office of the President and Vice President. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at abecenti@navajotimes.com. Follow her on Twitter at @abecenti

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