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'Historic Day' As Pfizer Vaccine Reaches Navajo Nation

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Associated Press
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A healthcare worker at the Chinle Comprehensive Health Care Facility was the first person to receive the Pfizer vaccine on the Navajo Nation. The tribe received close to 4,000 doses by Tuesday — delivered to medical centers in Chinle, Kayenta and Tuba City among others. KNAU’s Angela Gervasi reports:

 

Navajo Nation officials say the vaccination plan will prioritize healthcare workers and residents of long-term assisted living facilities. Native Medicine Coordinator Roland Begay was the first to receive an initial dose of the vaccine on Monday. When asked if he was willing to receive the vaccine, Begay said he agreed to do so. 

“Well, it’s been in the plan, people talk about it globally, and I say, it’s here. What are we going to do?” Begay said of the vaccine. “Look at it?” 

Begay encouraged people to continue wearing masks and to consider their priorities when deciding on vaccination. 

“Just because this vaccine is here [doesn’t] mean that we stop, or put our masks away,” he added.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said it was a “historic day” as he addressed the public in a virtual town hall.

“Over 700 of our Navajo people have lost their lives to this virus. And the many people not just in this room, but across the country, all over the world, working [tirelessly] every day to keep you safe,” Nez said. “And let us remember them in prayer and thank them when you see them.”

 

Nez also told viewers vaccination would be voluntary. 

The Navajo Nation has experienced climbing COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. A stay-at-home lockdown order continues for residents. In Arizona, Navajo and Apache counties hold the highest death rates per 100,000 people, according to the most recent state data.