The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has announced the tribe’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, with frontline healthcare workers receiving their first doses this week.

Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Hill received the first dose at the Choctaw Nation Hospital in Talihina, along with nursing and pharmacy officials.

“The novel coronavirus has impacted all of us in some way,” said Hill. “The vaccination will help protect our patients from contracting the virus or spreading it unknowingly to loved ones.”

CNHSA said the tribe worked with Indian Health Services to make the COVID-19 vaccinations available to frontline healthcare workers throughout tribe’s 10-and-a-half counties over the next several weeks.

Essential tribal employees such as tribal police, and childcare workers can also receive the vaccine now, according to Hill.

Choctaw Nation Director of Government Public Relations Casey Davis said the vaccines are being held at the hospital in Talihina due to the ultra-cold storage requirements of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Hill said the Moderna vaccine will be held at Choctaw Nation Health Clinics.

Hill said both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will be made available when supplies arrive from the manufacturer with both vaccines requiring two doses to achieve the more than 94% effective rate.

Beginning as early as January 2021, during Phase 2 vaccinations will be made available to Certified Degree of Indian Blood cardholders 60 years and older that live within Choctaw Nation jurisdiction, along with CDIB card holders who live in the same household.

The details for those meeting the criteria will be announced in the coming weeks.

Final phases will include CDIB cardholders of any age and Choctaw Nation associates as vaccine supplies are available.

As of Friday, there were 2,164 active cases of COVID-19 within the 10-and-a-half counties of the Choctaw Nation, with a total of 17,070 cumulative cases, 162 deaths, and 14,744 recoveries since the pandemic began, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Further vaccine information will be made available at www.choctawnation.com/covid-19.

Contact Derrick James at djames@mcalesternews.com

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