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Previous story Oregon tribes say they have enough vaccine, but many members are skeptical Next story

Story by Pat Dooris - Story Source
Published on Tuesday March 16, 2021 - 2:59 AM
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The issue for Oregon tribes isn't with the vaccine supply they're receiving; it's trying to change historical attitudes of distrust for the medical system

PORTLAND, Ore. — We emailed or called Oregon's nine major tribes to check in on how they are doing with COVID-19 vaccinations. We wanted to know if the state or federal government were giving them enough supplies.

We heard back from four of the nine.

"It's been a very amazing program we've been able to put together," said Misty Wadzeck, the tribal health nurse supervisor for the Klamath tribes.

She said they're getting enough vaccine from the Oregon Health Authority and not being overlooked.

"We've actually been able to reach out and support the vaccination effort in Klamath County," she said. "And even lead the effort with vaccinations in some ways in that area."

Wadzeck said there is enough vaccine to offer it to any tribal member who is 18 or older, plus all of their contacts.

So far, that's meant shots to 2,900 people: 1,841 nontribal members and 1,059 to members. The Klamath tribes total 5,400 members, so the vaccination rate for members is roughly 20% so far.

In eastern Oregon, the Umatilla tribe has vaccinated more than 2,000 people. Lisa Guzman, CEO of Yellowhawk Tribal Health, said that includes about 667 tribal members, which is roughly 23% of the tribe. It also includes more than 400 Native Americans who belong to other tribes, and 950 other community members.

She said it's a challenge to convince some members that the COVID shot is safe.