The new Tribal Health and Human Services Mobile Medical Unit on site at the February 11 Mass COVID-19 Vaccination event.
By DANA HERNANDEZ
FORT HALL — The Indian Health Service and Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Health and Human Services partnered with the Shoshone-Bannock Jr./Sr. High School to host a mass COVID-19 vaccination event at the Sho-Ban school on Thursday, February 11.
Sunny Stone, Tribal Health and Human Services Diabetes Manager said the event was an attempt to get as many people from the Fort Hall community vaccinated as soon as possible. Stone said they brought 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine and within the first hour they had given 32 doses. Stone said they don’t have the Pfizer vaccine yet, but are hoping to get it soon.
Local tribal member, Whitney Burns received her COVID-19 vaccine at the event and said she was feeling scared when she was driving on her way because of the stigma that surrounds the vaccine. “There’s been how many elders who have received the vaccine already and they’re good, so I figured if they can do it, so can I,” said Burns. She said it only took a second to get the shot and is excited because she is now vaccinated. Participants who received their vaccination at this event were also scheduled to come in four weeks later to receive their second dose on March 12.
Shoshone-Bannock tribal elder Zelberta Begay receives her first dose of the Moderna vaccine.
Stone said they followed their safety plan they had in place and everyone was being safe. School at SBHS was cancelled for the day in order to have the mass vaccine event. Stone also explained exactly what the COVID-19 vaccination process looked like.
They had the National Guard members checking temperatures and screening participants for symptoms as soon as they entered the school, and it was to make sure that anyone who is sick is stopped from entering the gym to reduce the risk of exposure. Once participants were screened they were checked-in through the IHS system. “We have staff here to help individuals get their IHS chart updated if it needs to be. They are also helping participants with health questionnaires that the staff needs in order to be aware of any healthcare needs,” said Stone. The health questionnaires then go to the screening personnel who review and answer participants’ questions before receiving their COVID-19 vaccine. Participants also received information about what they are expected to do in order to continue being safe after receiving a vaccine. All participants were required to wait 15 to 30 minutes, which was dependent upon their individual health questionnaires.
A National Guard member checks a participant's temperature.
Stone said, “I just want everyone to know we have this vaccine available and if you weren’t able to make it to this event tonight, you can, as an IHS beneficiary call the IHS clinic at 208-238-5427 or 208-238-5435 and schedule your vaccine appointment to be made at the clinic. If you aren’t an IHS beneficiary but a member of this community, meaning you live on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation or you work on the reservation for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes you can call the HRSA clinic at 208-478-3987 to schedule a vaccination appointment.”