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Navajo Officials Move Quickly To Administer COVID-19 Vaccines To Tribal Members

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AP, file/Esteban Felix
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Navajo Nation leaders are aggressively administering COVID-19 vaccines to tribal members. Officials are hoping to rapidly reduce infections in the area that’s been a national hotspot for the virus. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

About a quarter of the Navajo Nation’s more than 170,000-person population has been vaccinated so far. Last weekend alone, a combined 2,000 tribal members received doses at events in Ft. Defiance and Gallup, N.M. Health officials say they’ve even begun administering some second doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Navajo President Jonathan Nez says the tribe is administering vaccines at a very high rate compared to many U.S. states.

Navajo officials have lifted weekend lockdowns in order to hold more vaccination events and health care officials are working to quicken the pace. President Nez and other Navajo leaders met with White House, Indian Health Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials Sunday to request more vaccines, testing kits, medical personnel and other resources.

The Navajo Nation was a national hotspot for COVID infections last year and has now surpassed 1,000 deaths from the virus.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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