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Navajo Nation sees success in COVID-19 vaccination for children

A Navajo woman in traditional dress wearing a mask in a desert landscape
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

The Indian Health Service says the Navajo Nation has been exceptional at rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine to children, but still faces many logistical challenges especially with the youngest age group. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

More than half of children ages 5 to 11 have been vaccinated against COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation, compared to about a third nationwide. The rollout has been slower for children under the age of 5.

Dr. Loretta Christensen, chief medical officer of the Indian Health Service, points to challenges with transportation for working families and says many children have fallen behind on their regular vaccinations. "We’re spread very thin, but we are very, very focused on the priority of making these available for our children—again, getting their other vaccinations up to date equally as important as well," she says.

Christensen says the Indian Health Service wants to adopt “best practices” from the Navajo Nation for other Native American communities, such as family and school vaccination clinics.

See COVID-19 vaccination rates by age group for the Navajo Nation, Arizona, and nationwide. More about immunizations from the Indian Health Service.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.