Cherokee Nation administers 10,000th dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Former Principal Chief Ross Swimmer gets a COVID-19 vaccination by a Cherokee Nation health worker. He is one of nearly 6,000 Cherokee elders who recently received a COVID-19 vaccine through the tribe. The CN administered its 10,000th�dose of the vaccine during the last week of January. COURTESY

TAHLEQUAH -- According to a Cherokee Nation press release, the tribe administered its 10,000th dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during the last week of January to CN citizens falling within the tribe's Phase 1 and Phase 2A priority distribution plan, which includes frontline health care workers, first-language Cherokee speakers and Cherokee elders.�

"From Day 1 of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arriving in the Cherokee Nation, we have prioritized Cherokee speakers, Cherokee elders and our health care workers who have been on the frontlines protecting all of us during the worst health crisis we've seen in generations," said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. "I appreciate our Health Services team for working so tirelessly to provide this vaccine to the most vulnerable in our communities. They have been effective and efficient in this process, and their work is saving lives every day."�

Nearly 60% of the tribe's allotted COVID-19 vaccines have been provided to first-language Cherokee speakers, Cherokee National Treasures and Cherokees elders since the first doses arrived on Dec. 14, the release states.

?"This milestone for our health system is one we are excited to celebrate," said Health Services Executive Director Dr. R. Stephen Jones. "It's an encouragement to our health teams to have vaccinated this many of our staff, Cherokee speakers, National Treasures, elders and now even more groups as we have entered phase 2A of our vaccine distribution plan."�

According to the release, the tribe's Phase 2A is ongoing and includes teachers working for the CN, CN child care workers, Food Distribution employees and other critical staff, as well as CN citizens 55 and older.�

"It's important that our people take the vaccine as soon as possible, especially those at-risk citizens," said former Principal Chief Ross Swimmer, one of the nearly 6,000 Cherokee elders recently receiving a COVID-19 vaccine via the tribe. "From the time I started learning about this vaccine several months ago, it clearly is the best opportunity people have to avoid getting the COVID virus. It would be a shame if Cherokees didn't take advantage of this. I want to encourage all of our Cherokee elders to come in and get this vaccine. This is a landmark project and I want to express my thanks to Chief Hoskin for his work, and to the medical providers for their efforts."�

According to the release, vaccinations are administered by appointment only for established Health Services patients with a medical chart who fall within Phase 1 and 2A of the tribe's phased distribution plan, which is available online at health.cherokee.org.�

The release states that individuals who meet phased distribution criteria can schedule an appointment by calling 1-539-234-4099. Qualifying appointments are being scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Walk-ins are not being taken at this time, the release states.

"Vaccine uptake among our health care staff has also been an inspiration for others who meet phase criteria to get vaccinated," Jones said. "We share our vaccine stories and educate one other to encourage even higher vaccine uptake among our health staff."�

For information on the COVID-19 vaccine or to find Health Service registration forms and the latest updates to the CN vaccine distribution plan, visit�health.cherokee.org.�

According to the releases, as of Jan. 28 there were more than 13,800 positive cases of COVID-19 within the CN. Health Services has reported 90 deaths caused by COVID-19.