Saskatchewan First Nation has vaccinated 85% of its eligible population: Chief | The Canadian News

A Saskatchewan First Nation is celebrating an important milestone in the fight against COVID-19.

Buffalo Permanent Director Roberta Soo-Oyewaste told Global News that 85 percent of the eligible population is vaccinated.

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In addition, all those between 69 and 91 years old who live in the reserve located 75 kilometers northeast of Regina are vaccinated.

She credits the communication and support of the COVID-19 task force with high acceptance.

Standing Buffalo Chief Roberta Soo-Oyewaste.

Roberta Soo-Oyewaste / Photo sent

“Communication is our number one priority,” he said.

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The Standing Buffalo COVID-19 task force consists of eight members, including Soo-Oyewaste.

The team has access to a list of dwellings that tells them who lives in each house on the reserve.

Then they picked up their phones and began communicating with households to find out which members were over 12 years old.

Soo-Oyewaste said the process began in January. He added that the team has a good relationship with All Nations Healing Hospital and the nursing staff there.

“We all work together,” Soo-Oyewaste said.

Community members received an information packet on the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines.

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A Zoom town hall was also held with presentations by Dr. Ibrahim Khan, Indian Services Canada Medical Health Officer, and others.

Residents could call or text if they had any questions about the vaccine.

“Information about the vaccine is really important (and) that person-to-person communication is important, and that was the success of our COVID-19 vaccine team and how we got that high rate,” said Soo-Oyewaste.

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“We made sure all of our frontline workers were vaccinated, which included our teachers, our (educational assistants) and our health staff, our band staff, and most importantly, our Lakeview Lodge staff and residents received the vaccine”.

However, the vaccination effort was not without its challenges. Soo-Oyewaste said the team had to curb some doubts about vaccines.

“We keep calling them, just to communicate and have those doors open, maybe they’ll change their mind (and) in case they change their mind,” Soo-Oyewaste said.

Soo-Oyewaste is also proud of residents ages 12-15 for taking the initiative to get vaccinated once it was their turn to roll up their sleeves.

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“They all came alone with their consent forms. They were waiting 10 minutes, because when they give you the vaccine, it has to thaw, so there is a 15 minute wait. And they were waiting, lined up at the door. “

“Considering all the social media and all that is negative against the vaccine, they just did a good job. And I think we did a good job educating people, ”added Soo-Oyewaste.

Soo-Oyewaste said that education, awareness and communication are important when it comes to increasing vaccination rates.

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