MUSKRAT DAM FN – COVID-19 Update – Chief Gordon Beardy, Community Councilors and other Leaders demonstrated their strong leadership and support for the vaccine by being some of the first in line to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on February 1, 2021 in Muskrat Dam First Nation, located approximately 584 km north of Thunder Bay. A team from ORNGE was on site to administer the vaccine and a team from Independent First Nation Alliance (IFNA) was on hand to provide operations, logistics, communications, and safety support to the community.
Much preparation and hard work was needed in advance of the vaccination to prepare the community. Chief Beardy said. “A lot was involved logistically in terms of organizing a team, finding a suitable space, managing community lists and working with all of the partners involved.”
In addition to logistics, “We also needed to do extensive surveying about the community’s opinion towards the vaccine as well as conducting a comprehensive education and promotion program to help give members the best possible information about the vaccine,” says Roy Fiddler, the community Pandemic Lead.
“Like anywhere,” added Chief Beardy, “Some of our members did not want the vaccine, others experienced vaccine hesitancy due to disinformation, religious beliefs or simply a lack of access to accredited sources of information.”
In addition to the community’s vaccination team IFNA, the community’s Tribal Council, supported the delivery with their Health Services team, including nurses, physicians, and administrative support. They also went to the community in advance, on January 28, 2021 to assist with public health education, vaccination clinic site selection and set-up.
CEO Mathew Hoppe stated, “We simply offered extra hands and organized support to Chief, Council and the Community who have been planning for some time and really had things well in hand. Other organizations such as the Sioux Lookout First Nation Health Authority (SLFNHA), Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) and the Canadian Rangers were also involved in a variety of support roles.”
According to Chief Beardy “Our efforts were very successful with 86% of our eligible community members (aged 18 and over) vaccinated and 168 doses administered over the past three days. Like everyone, Muskrat Dam wants to see an end to this pandemic. We did our part, and this week hopefully marks the beginning of seeing that come to fruition.”