Kaiser Health News: COVID-19 recall rates lag among Indigenous people


Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention: Wes Studi offers COVID-19 vaccine advice to tribal communities

“The danger is always there” ― While Omicron hides, Native Americans are wary of boosters

Friday, April 8, 2022

By Rachana Pradhan

Kaiser Health News

When covid-19 vaccines first became available, Native Americans moved quickly and decisively to get vaccinated — as if they had everything to lose. Covid hospitalization and death rates for American Indians and Alaska Natives had skyrocketed beyond those for non-Hispanic whites. Leveraging established systems like the Indian Health Service and tribal organizations, Native Americans administered vaccines urgently. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed they had achieved the highest vaccination rates of any race or ethnicity. reminders. Nationally, 72% of American Indians and Alaska Natives of all ages had received at least one dose of a covid vaccine as of March 28, and 59% were fully vaccinated – having received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or a dose of Johnson & Johnson’s. A much smaller share had received boosters — 44% of fully vaccinated Native Americans ages 12 and older, below booster rates for whites, Asian Americans, and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

“I wish all parents to have their children vaccinated.” UNR Tiny Tot Princess RSIC Tribe Member Karianna John

posted by Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Reno-Sparks Indian Colony: “I wish all parents to have their children vaccinated”
Tribal health experts say data issues may be partly to blame, but there are other factors. It has proven more difficult in recent months to find shots and make appointments. Some people were unconvinced of the value of a third vaccine, a hesitation fueled by evolving scientific understanding of the virus and a distrust of the federal government rooted in tribal communities. “Sometimes I think people I talk to see it like, ‘Hey, we got our first shot and second shot. You told us this is what we need, and we’ll be fine,’” said Angie Wilson, who until recently was tribal administrator of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, a federally recognized tribe in Nevada with approximately 1,200 members. Reno-Sparks provides insight into what it takes to increase vaccinations. Before the omicron variant arrived in early December, vaccinations had plateaued and many members were expressing apathy about receiving additional shots, she said. After omicron caused a surge in cases, Reno-Sparks demanded that its employees be fully vaccinated and fortified. He also used money provided by the American Rescue Plan Act offer money members: $1,000 for initial doses and $500 for a booster, whether or not they live on reserve. These incentives and the growing number of breakthrough infections sparked renewed interest and persuaded about 130 people to get boosters within six weeks. Thirty-five percent of eligible Reno-Sparks tribal members had been bolstered by the end of March. Rates of first and second vaccinations also increased: 60% of members 5 years and older received an initial dose, while 56% were fully vaccinated. The tribal land is in an urban area in Reno, and the reservation has a Walmart Supercenter. Nevada has lifted its statewide mask mandate abruptly on February 10.

Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention: Wes Studi offers COVID-19 vaccine advice to tribal communities
As precautions to limit the spread of covid are dropped, tribal officials fear what any gap in vaccination will mean for their communities. American Indians and Alaska Natives were hospitalized for covid at three times the rate of white Americans and died of covid at twice the rate of whites, according to the CDC. Nationally, as of March 28, less than half of Indigenous residents eligible for the recall received them“I can see where we’re headed, which is concerning,” Wilson said. “I worry about our tribal population, especially with our risk factors.” Challenges were evident even before the FDA on March 29 authorized a second recall dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for anyone 50 or older and some immunocompromised people. Tribal members and health experts see several reasons why recall rates have not been higher, despite using more aggressive vaccination measures than surrounding states and counties. Virginia Hedrick, executive director of the California Consortium for Urban Indian Health, said, “I think IHS has really seized the moment when it comes to the pandemic and the rollout of vaccines. Still, “every time something changes, she said of the vaccine, “it raises questions for people.” In the fall, Hedrick said, her mother-in-law saw advertisements for callbacks everywhere but still couldn’t make an appointment. “There was a general feeling of frustration,” she said. Another problem, which likely obscures the true proportion of Native Americans who received reminders: data inconsistencies. Racial data on Native Americans has long been hampered by problems of accuracy, including misclassifications of people. With covid vaccines, the CDC receives data from a hodgepodge of systems that don’t typically communicate with each other: state immunization registries, pharmacy chains, and federal vaccine suppliers, including the IHS. And information on race and ethnicity is missing from a significant portion of immunization records. The agency acknowledges that it may overestimate initial vaccines given and underestimate subsequent doses because the data does not include personally identifiable information. Therefore, different doses may not be linked to the same person. If a Native American receives the first two doses through the IHS but receives a booster elsewhere, the booster dose could be misclassified as a first dose. Many examples of this could make recall rates among Native Americans seem lower than they really are. who works at the Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board in South Dakota. Accurate federal data is crucial for evaluating Native American vaccinations because of the important role played by the IHS, a federal agency through which 355 facilities, tribal health programs, and urban Indian organizations received vaccine shipments. State-level immunization data does not include injections administered by all federal vaccine providers, including the IHS.

Native Americans get vaccinated inside and outside tribal health facilities, but access to IHS facilities may affect overall rates.IHS publishes the number of vaccine doses which were delivered and administered in 11 IHS areas but not the number of people per area who received these doses. The only exception is Alaska, where the tribes received state vaccines. $9 billion to respond to the pandemic, most of which comes from the US bailout. He did not respond to questions about efforts to increase recall rates among tribal people and whether they differed from outreach done to encourage people to get vaccinated initially. the agency “regularly provides data quality feedback” and works to remove duplicate or incorrect records. “This is an ongoing process and includes strategies to improve the accuracy of all data related to COVID-19 vaccination, including race and ethnicity data,” he said. she stated in an email. Agnes Attakai, member of the Navajo Nation who lost six covid parents, got their first two doses of the vaccine easily, via a drive-thru university clinic. But when it came to her recall, she said, she had two options — CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, which had a “one to two month wait,” or her local public health department about 10 miles away. . A resident of rural Pima County, Arizona, she chose the latter and got vaccinated in November. But there were clear differences from the early rollout of the vaccine. The injections were “more accessible at the very beginning, where there was a mass effort, a community-wide effort,” Attakai said. “When the boosters deployed… [folks had to] actually know where to get their reminders and what was the nearest location, when they were open. And, of course, some of them were only open during the day.

Office of the Navajo Nation President and Vice President: American Rescue Plan Act Hardship Assistance Drive
The Navajo Nation, the largest tribe in the United States, in January demanded that its employees receive booster shots, relying on an earlier mandate that they should be fully vaccinated. As of March 4, 66% of Navajo Nation residents had received the first two doses, spokesman Jared Touchin said, above the US rate at the time. As officials prepare for future covid surges, Wilson said tribal officials are trying to figure out how to better educate people on how to protect themselves. “If we don’t do that, I think the problem is going to be, ‘Well, covid is over, everything’s open, we don’t have to deal with this anymore, I’m starting to live my life again’, regardless. realizing that the danger is still there,” she said. The difficulty for the national response to the pandemic is that “there is validity in fear in tribal communities,” Wilson said, “centered distrust of the federal government, and rightly so”.
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KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism on health issues. Along with policy analysis and polling, KHN is one of the three main operating programs of KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed non-profit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

Navajo Nation


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