Akwesasne receives first COVID-19 vaccine doses

Akwesasne receives first COVID-19 vaccine doses
Clinical director Dr. Benson Kelly and pharmacy supervisor Joan Westcott open the first shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine that arrived at the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe on Monday. (Source: Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe)

AKWESASNE (WWNY) - The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe received its first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine Monday.

They come 280 days after the Akwesasne community declared a state of emergency because of the pandemic.

The 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived at Saint Regis Mohawk Health Services Monday morning.

Tribal officials expect more in the coming months, but they say this first shipment is a vital tool in combating the coronavirus, because it is 94 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 symptoms from developing.

“My appreciation goes out to the Indian Health Service in facilitating the distribution of this historic vaccine,” SMRT Health Services director Michael Cook said. “I wish we could start tomorrow but we’ve got some plans to put into place first.”

The first doses will be administered to frontline healthcare workers, tribal police officers, and other frontline personnel as soon as early January. It will require a second dose to be administered 28 days afterwards.

Public vaccinations are expected to start in April or May.

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