WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. —  With Friday's approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19, preparations are underway to received the first shipment on Monday and Tuesday to the nation's largest Indian reservation. 

The Navajo Nation has been particularily hit hard by the coronavirus. On Friday, the Navajo Nation surpassed 700 deaths from Covid-19. As of Saturday evening, the deadly virus has claimed 718 Navajo citizens since March 2020.

The much needed vaccine will be administered based on the Centers for Disease Control’s phased distribution plan that calls for health care workers and those living in long-term assisted living facilities to receive the vaccine first, on a volunteer basis. Navajo Area IHS expects to receive its first shipments of the vaccine on Monday and Tuesday, which will be transported to Gallup Indian Medical Center, Chinle IHS, and Northern Navajo Medical Center, followed by other locations that have the equipment to store the Pfizer vaccine at deep freeze temperature. 

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez met with Navajo Area Indian Health Service Chief Medical Officer Dr. Loretta Christensen on Friday, and discussed the vaccination distribution plan that is being overseen by Navajo Area IHS. Dr. Christensen stated that IHS has had extensive planning in the works for quite some time and has also been doing practice runs at their hospital facilities.

“With the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine and pending approval of the Moderna vaccine, there is high demand across the entire country. Navajo Area IHS is working hard to help as many people as possible every day, while also implementing the distribution plan that prioritizes health care workers and those living in long-term assisted living facilities. So, it will take time for the vaccines to become widely available to the general public. Until then, it’s very important that everyone keep up their guard to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We cannot lose focus because there is a vaccine. We have to keep fighting this invisible monster together,” President Nez said.

Also reported on Saturday, the Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, said there were 203 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation. Reports indicate that 10,359 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 181,120 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 19,420, including 17 delayed reported cases. 

Navajo Nation COVID-19 positive cases by Service Unit:

  • Chinle Service Unit: 3,769
  • Crownpoint Service Unit: 2,067
  • Ft. Defiance Service Unit: 2,088
  • Gallup Service Unit: 3,221
  • Kayenta Service Unit: 1,920
  • Shiprock Service Unit: 3,176
  • Tuba City Service Unit: 1,970
  • Winslow Service Unit: 1,189

* 20 residences with COVID-19 positive cases are not specific enough to place them accurately in a Service Unit.

On Saturday, the state of Arizona reported 8,076 new cases, Utah reported 3,692, and New Mexico reported 1,803 new cases. The Navajo Nation’s 57-hour weekend lockdown is in effect until 5:00 a.m. (MST) on Monday, Dec. 14. All residents of the Navajo Nation are required to remain home during the weekend lockdown with the exception of essential workers who are required to report to work. All businesses on the Navajo Nation are closed during the 57-hour weekend lockdown.

For more information, including helpful prevention tips, and resources to help stop the spread of COVID-19, visit the Navajo Department of Health's COVID-19 website: https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.ndoh.navajo-nsn.gov/COVID-19&source=gmail&ust=1607918574403000&usg=AFQjCNGtA3ekTlrq33mhwD0wOrhZKhh_GQ">http://www.ndoh.navajo-nsn.gov/COVID-19. For COVID-19 related questions and information, call (928) 871-7014.

Since you're here...

We believe everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers. But we hope it inspires you to make a gift of $5 or more to Native News Online so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online Staff