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Nation surpasses 100,000-shot goal

WINDOW ROCK

The Navajo Nation has surpassed its goal of administering 100,000 COVID-19 vaccines by the end of February.

As of Thursday it was announced that 101,332 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were administered on the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Area Indian Health Service also reported 133,765 total vaccine doses have been received, and 23,729 individuals have received both a first and second dose of the vaccines.

The figure represents well over half the 173,000 residents of the Navajo Nation, although President Jonathan Nez said that’s a bit misleading since Navajos have been coming in from off the reservation to get their shots.

“We reached that 100,000 goal,” said Nez. “Good job to all our health care workers throughout the Navajo Nation, those doing vaccination events — outstanding!” He noted that 76 percent of the serum received by the tribe “has been put into the arms of our citizens.”

He said after reassessing how many vaccines Navajo has and will be getting, the next goal is to give a vaccination to everyone who wants one.

Capt. Brian Johnson, acting deputy director for Navajo Area IHS, said in order for the vaccine to be effective for the Navajo population a large number of people need to get vaccinated “so we can stop the viral transmission in its tracks.”

He also congratulated the Navajo Nation and health care partners for the national and regional media attention Navajo has been getting for its effective vaccine rollout, something the Navajo Times has been reporting on diligently since vaccines first became available.

“There’s been numerous positive comments in published articles in national news and regional news that’s talking about the job that’s going on here,” said Johnson, “and just how well we are getting the vaccine out and making it accessible to the public.”

The Navajo Nation has been so determined to get the vaccines administered that it even lifted its strict weekend lockdown to so the public can get their vaccine.

The Navajo Department of Health reported 43 new COVID-19 infections for the Navajo Nation and 13 more deaths as of Thursday. Reports indicate that 15,917 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 241,207 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 29,386, including seven delayed reported cases.

Dr. Puthiery Va, epidemiologist at the Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility, explained that although we are in a downward trend with cases, Navajo is still in Phase 0, which means the case burden is still high.

“For every 100,000 people we have more than 25 cases daily,” said Va. “Our test positivity is still greater than 10 percent. Our next goal is … bring down our degree of community spread and cases so that we reach into the Phase 1 territory.”

In Phase 1 the disease risk is still high and there is still community spread, but case burden is less and there is greater hospital and public health capacity.

Va said the Centers for Disease Control is monitoring the three new variants, B.1.1.7, B.1351 and P.1. The B.1.1.7 variant has been reported in over 1,200 cases, and has been found in 40 states including Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado.

“This has doubled in size in terms of cases identified in the past week, said Va. “We know that variant is on its way to be the more dominant variant.”

The B.1351 has been found in California, Texas, North Carolina, and Illinois and may have an impact on the vaccine’s ability to provide protection.

“This is not the time to let up,” said Va, who said double-masking is suggested. “We will continue to ask people to wear masks, social distance, avoid social gatherings, and get vaccinated when you’re able to get vaccinated.”


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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