- By Native News Online Staff
BELLINGHAM, Wash. — The Lummi Public Health Department has submitted an application to participate in a Novavax Covid-19 vaccine trial, a move that is the first step in determining whether the tribe will enroll in the trial.
Earlier this month, the tribe withdrew from the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine trial, with Lummi Public Health citing communication problems with AstraZeneca representatives following a pause in the study due to adverse reactions experienced by trial participants in the United Kingdom.
"Native peoples are at higher risk of severe symptoms or death from the coronavirus," said Dakotah Lane, medical director of the Lummi Public Health Department and member of the Lummi Nation, in a statement released by the Lummi Nation. "The AstraZeneca trial was not a good fit, but we continue to believe it's important for our people to have the opportunity to volunteer for a trial as we're at a much higher risk than other populations."
There will be a three-part process to determining whether the Lummi Nation will participate in the vaccine trial, including review and recommendations by the Northwest Indian College Institutional Review Board (IRB), the Lummi Health and Family Services Commission, and the Lummi Indian Business Council (LIBC). A recommendation will then be forwarded to the Lummi Tribal Health Commission, a six-member group made up of Lummi tribal members, which will review the application and respond to any public concerns.
If the health commission decides to recommend the vaccine trial, the decision to particpate will then be put to a vote by the LIBC. If approved, the Lummi Public Health Department could begin registering volunteers sometime in November.
"We know there are concerns from our tribal members and we have taken this to heart," said Lawrence Solomon, chairman of the Lummi Nation, in a statement. "This decision will be made carefully and with community input. Other tribes have experienced such loss from this virus that we want to provide as many options to protect people as possible."
In a statement, Lane emphasized how much is at stake for Native communities when it comes to the impact of Covid-19.
"If the experts and community approve of proceeding with the Novavax vaccine trial, this will be just one more available option for our tribal members who want to participate."
Celebrating 10 years of Native News...
We launched Native News Online back in February 2011 with the belief that 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. We hope it inspires you to celebrate our first decade with a gift of $10 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.