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MAYETTA, Kan. — Tribes across Indian Country received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine last week. In the case of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, the shipment was picked up at the Indian Health Service (IHS) located in Oklahoma City, Okla. and transported over 300 miles to deliver 75 doses on the reservation located in northern Kansas.

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Health Center administered their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine last Thursday.

Tribal elected officials and administrators were the first to be given the vaccine. Also on the list were essential employees of the Health Center staff, Potawatomi police and fire department staff.

“The coronavirus pandemic is the greatest threat our tribe has faced in the past 70 years,” Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Chairman Joseph Rupnick said. “Ensuring we have access to the COVID-19 vaccine is paramount to the health and wellbeing of our people.”

PBPN Tribal Council and Prairie Band health officials have been working diligently to secure the COVID-19 vaccination to protect and safeguard the community. Chairman Rupnick disclosed that the nation will continue to pressure IHS and the federal government to provide enough vaccines for the tribe.

The nation anticipates receiving 200 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination within the next two weeks. Those doses are earmarked for remaining essential employees and high-risk Prairie Band Health Center patients.

The Nation anticipates vaccine availability to the general Prairie Band community by spring 2021.

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