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IllumiNative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the visibility of Native people in American society, is launching a national Native-led campaign to overcome hesitancy in Native communities to get vaccinated for COVID-19. The campaign is being dubbed “Aunties with Antibodies” and its first public service announcement is by Congresswoman Sharice Davids (D-Kansas). 

“I need help when I fight, just like our bodies do,” said Davids in her PSA for Illuminative. “Being vaxxed puts our bodies in a better position to fight it off. A vaccinated adult is nine times less likely to end up in the hospital with COVID-19.”

“Combating COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is a complex and difficult task but through our research and focus studies, we found that community engagement and asset-driven messaging is what is going to move the needle,” said IllumiNative founder and executive director Crystal Echo Hawk in a press release. “We’re highlighting the strength and resiliency of Native communities while calling upon each other to get vaccinated; for our families, our culture, our people—in unique and exciting ways.”

Davids’ PSA is the first in the “Aunties with Antibodies” series with other videos coming from Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, Dallas Goldtooth, and Native TikTokers Charlie Amáyá Scott, Tatianna Olivia Black, Ashley Good, and Jojo Jackson to encourage Native youth to get vaccinated. 

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The video series is part of the For the Love of Our People campaign, which is a partnership between Urban Indian Health Institute and IllumiNative. According to its website, the For the Love of Our People campaign provides data-driven messaging and information from Native health experts about COVID-19, vaccines, and ways to stay healthy. The website provides tools for people to learn more about vaccinations, including a local vaccine finder to find a provider for each person. 

“Protecting our babies, our sons, our daughters, and our future generations—this has always been our way,” said Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan in a PSA promoting COVID-19 vaccination with her daughter. 

The PSA campaign comes in the midst of one of the deadliest outbreaks of the pandemic as the Omicron variant is crippling communities with more than 500,000 cases a day. Municipalities have ordered indoor mask mandates while many school districts have opted to virtual learning. Health officials predict the peak of the Omicron surge is still weeks away and stress the need for and benefit of vaccinations. 

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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. 
About The Author
Author: Darren ThompsonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a staff reporter for Native News Online who is based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Thompson has reported on political unrest, tribal sovereignty, and Indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in international conversation. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology & Law Studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.