Huu-ay-aht among the first to get vaccinated

The current pandemic is still a long way from over, but Huu-ay-aht First Nations is making progress in its fight against the virus.

In January, the Huu-ay-aht found out residents of Anacla would be among the first recipients of the Moderna vaccine. Within days of receiving the news, the first 70 vaccinations were administered in Anacla. That number has since increased to 85, and every member of the community has been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr encouraged residents of Huu-ay-aht’s remote village to get vaccinated to help protect the elders and people who could not get the vaccine.

“We want to lead by example,” he told the Hashilthsa. “If there’s something that we can do to stop the spread, we’re willing to be front and centre to ensure that it gets done.”

The chief also sees the vaccinations as a positive step and hopes that it will mean citizens will be able to gather again, and even host potlatches.

“That’s one of the big things people are missing,” he said. “Being able to get together with family, share a good, big meal and [enjoy] songs and dances. I’m extremely excited about that happening again.”

Although COVID-19 numbers in the province have leveled out, the numbers for First Nations communities are not looking promising.

As of the most recent update from the First Nations Health Authority on January 15, B.C had 2,761 cases recorded in First Nations people.  Among these, there were 32 deaths related to COVID-19. As of this date, there are 416 active cases.

When you examine the demographics of the people infected in this group, 72% are under the age of 50. The majority, 54.7% fall between 20-49 years of age.

The statistics also indicate that First Nations people are becoming infected at a rate greater than the provincial average. The rate of positive cases was 1,700 per 100,000 people among First Nations versus 1,157 per 100,000 people in BC.

The good news is that First Nations communities, especially those in remote areas, are a priority in the new provincial vaccination plan. As of the end of the FNHA reporting period, 75,914 people in B.C. have received a COVID-19 vaccine. Here is the schedule for this year’s immunization plan. For more details, you can go to: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/vaccines

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