Tribe encourages members to get COVID vaccine

After an outbreak last month, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe has produced a video series to encourage tribal members to get the first and second rounds of COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Earlier this week the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe began vaccinations against COVID. Hoping to encourage as many community members as possible get the vaccine as soon as they’re able, PGST is rolling out a messaging campaign, which starts with a video that documents those first vaccinations, talks about distribution, and stresses the reasons why vaccines are important while acknowledging the concerns some people might have,” said Ginger Vaughan, spokeswoman for the tribe.

On Dec. 28 the tribe received 100 doses of Moderna and vaccinated its first 10 staff and community members, such as doctors and frontline workers who fight the coronavirus.

PGST Health Director Jolene Sullivan said: “The distribution plan for the tribe really aligns with the CDC recommendations for priority. We’ve looked at our patient load and employee lists and have identified our first priority, which is healthcare workers and frontline staff. “The next priority group is elders and vulnerable people in the community that are 55 and older,

The first video, shared on the tribe’s Facebook page, shows tribal members and health care workers getting the vaccine. It expects to receive additional shipments of the vaccine throughout 2021.

A second video will be coming when patients receive the second round of the vaccine.

“We’ve been listening to the medical professionals the whole time and they have steered us in really good directions, for the most part, they have kept us pretty safe,” Tribal Chairman Jeromy Sullivan said. ” I think that when our doctors and our leadership in the medical field in the tribe are telling us that it’s safe to take, yes there could be some side effects but its overall safe I think it’s important for us to listen to them.”

In recent months the tribe has had an outbreak of COVID-19, stemming from the November holidays.

The tribe reported on Dec. 1 that at least 13 people had tested positive for COVID and that up to 50 people had been exposed to it. Both numbers grew following results on Dec. 5 with 24 more testing positive. On Dec. 10, PGST Health Clinic staff went door-to-door to test people, resulting in 14 more positive cases.