Cherokee Nation now offering Pfizer vaccine for ages 12-15

TAHLEQUAH – In the May 17 Health Committee meeting, Tribal Councilors were told that Cherokee Nation Health Services is now offering the Pfizer vaccine to 12-to-15-year olds. 

Dr. Stephen Jones, Health Services executive director, said the vaccine is available at four CN health facilities.

“The Pfizer for 12 to 15 is available at our clinics now. The clinics that have Pfizer are Muskogee, Tahlequah, Vinita and Sallisaw,” he said. 

Jones said the Pfizer vaccine would be available at the smaller CN health facilities at least three days a week. Walk-ins for youth to get the vaccine are available, though it is recommended for their parents to make appointments. 

“We are working through our pediatric providers also to get as many people vaccinated as want vaccinated. We are working off of a walk-in type system but it is better for us if we know someone is coming,” Jones said.

Councilors were also told of plans to increase the tribe’s COVID-19 vaccinations numbers, including offering a $300 incentive to increase the number of vaccinations in tribal government employees.

Chief of Staff Todd Enlow said the CN would offer the incentives for vaccinated tribal government employees. He said an executive order is in place and was to be effective May 25. 

“We are encouraging our employees to become vaccinated,” Enlow said. “It is not necessarily a mandate but we are looking at incentivizing and creating a policy to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

According to a May 18 CN press release, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed the executive order to provide a vaccine reward and incentive program for the 4,300 tribal government employees.

“Currently about 40% of our Cherokee Nation employee base is vaccinated and we know we need that figure to increase to 70% to reach herd immunity,” Hoskin said. “Raising awareness, offering an incentive program and setting a goal for achievement is another way to help increase our immunity percentage so we can continue to help protect our tribe, workplace, Cherokee speakers, language and elders from COVID-19.”

The executive order is geared toward existing employees, new employees and those in job training programs. 

The tribe expects to begin issuing the $300 incentive in June to tribal government employees planning to get a vaccine and those formerly vaccinated, according to the release. 

Jones said since December the tribe has given more 60,000 vaccinations to CN citizens and non-citizens.