Snuneymuxw First Nation. (News Bulletin file photo)

Snuneymuxw First Nation. (News Bulletin file photo)

Vaccine request quickly granted to combat Nanaimo-area First Nation COVID-19 outbreak

Snuneymuxw elders receiving Moderna vaccine starting today at pop-up clinic on reserve

A Nanaimo-area First Nation’s plea for vaccination protection from COVID-19 has been answered.

The Snuneymuxw First Nation, now with 19 cases of COVID-19 in the community, is starting to get vaccinated against the virus.

The First Nation’s request earlier this week for expedited access to the vaccine was quickly granted and a pop-up clinic is being set up at the Snuneymuxw gym today, Jan. 6, and tomorrow.

Elders will be first in line for the Moderna vaccine this morning, according to a letter to Snuneymuxw from Chief Mike Wyse, “front-line workers are the next priority, and then it is first-come, first-serve.”

Wyse’s letter, dated Jan. 5, confirmed three additional test-positive cases were found in the community. The individuals with COVID-19 are isolating and Island Health is conducting contact tracing.

Wyse told members in the letter that vaccination will be a personal choice and if Snuneymuxw members choose not to be vaccinated, “that is OK.” He thanked his council, the Snuneymuxw health team and administrative staff “who have come together in a good way to make it possible for a vaccine to be made available.”

The First Nation’s cases have all been confirmed since Dec. 31. On Jan. 1, Snuneymuxw chief and council issued a shelter-in-place in the community and the following day security checkpoints were set up at reserve access points.

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The B.C. government has advised that the first priority groups for vaccination between December and February will be residents and staff at long-term care and assisted-living residences, seniors awaiting a long-term care placement, health-care workers providing care for COVID-19 patients, and remote and isolated Indigenous communities.

From February to March, immunizations will be expanded to other elderly people 80 and up and Indigenous seniors 65 and up, people experiencing homelessness, those at correctional facilities, adults in group homes or mental health residential care, individuals receiving long-term home support, home support health workers, hospital staff, community doctors and medical specialists, and other indigenous communities.

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READ ALSO: Snuneymuxw asking for COVID-19 vaccine ASAP as case count rises

READ ALSO: Snuneymuxw First Nation orders shelter-in-place due to cluster of COVID-19 cases



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