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IRVING, N.Y. — J.C. Seneca, owner of the Seneca Nation’s Tallchief Territory, home of Native Pride Travel Plaza, wants to do his part to stop further spread of Covid-19. On Wednesday, he partnered with Dr. Raul Vazquez, president of G-Health Enterprises, to hold a Covid-19 vaccination pop-up site at Seneca’s truck stop.

dr/jcTerrance Gaiter, Urban Family Practice Manager, and J.C. SenecaIt was one of the first Covid-19 pop-up vaccination sites was held at a truck stop in the country.

Throughout the day, some 400 individuals received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the busy truck stop, located south of Buffalo, N.Y. on the Seneca Nation. The vaccine was offered to tribal citizens, truckers and motorists who shop at the truck stop.

According to Seneca, a truck stop is an ideal as a vaccination center location. 

“As the workforce that supplies our nation coast-to-coast, it is essential for truck stop employees and the nation’s truck drivers to have access to Covid-19 vaccines so that they can safely continue their vital work,” Seneca said. “Where better to provide those vaccines than at a place directly connected to their professional needs?”

NATSO, the nation’s leading truck stops and travel plaza organization, has been urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to designate truck stops as mobile vaccination sites to ensure that the nation’s truck drivers and truck stop employees have access to Covid-19 vaccines. 

NATSO Vice President of Public Affairs, Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman, notes the Tallchief Territory Home of Native Pride vaccine pop-up as an important step.

“We congratulate NATSO Member, Native Pride Travel Plaza, for taking steps to help vaccinate employees and truck drivers, who face significant challenges in accessing vaccines while crisscrossing the country and driving a commercial vehicle,” Neuman said. “By leveraging existing truck stop locations for the distribution of vaccines to professional truck drivers and truck stop employees, we can alleviate significant challenges that our employees and truck drivers currently face in receiving an expedient vaccine.”

Nurses prepping before the crowd arrives to receive Johnson & Johnson vaccine.Nurses prepping before the crowd arrives to receive Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“The beauty of the J&J vaccine is that it’s a single dose application,” Dr. Vazquez stated. “For truck drivers whose schedules are tight, they can set aside a few hours to get vaccinated and ensure they don’t have any reaction, and be on their way, secure in the knowledge that they are protected from the virus. When you add that ‘one and done’ technology with the convenience of truck drivers being able to access the vaccine at a place they already frequent, we are providing an essential service by every definition of the term.”

Seneca founded the Native Pride Travel Plaza in 1995. Since then the establishment has grown to a 22-pump gas and diesel service area complimented by a diner, a 24/7 convenience store and shower and lounge services for professional truck drivers.

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The Native News Health Desk is made possible by a generous grant from the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation as well as sponsorship support from the American Dental Association. This grant funding and sponsorship support have no effect on editorial consideration in Native News Online. 
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