Operations center opens vaccinations to everyone

ADA, Okla. – The Chickasaw Nation has opened its vaccine doors to everyone.

The tribe began offering COVID-19 vaccinations to all individuals in mid-March of this year.

“We are pleased to do our part to help put an end to this pandemic,” Governor Bill Anoatubby said. “Working together, we can help protect our family, friends and neighbors as we help speed our return to a greater sense of normalcy. Vaccinations, wearing masks, responsible distancing and washing our hands will help make our community and state safer for everyone.”

Individuals may schedule an appointment for a drive-thru vaccine in Ada or at one of the Chickasaw Nation satellite health clinics in Purcell, Ardmore or Tishomingo. To schedule, visit COVIDVaccine.Chickasaw.net.

Recipients must be 18 or older for the Moderna vaccine and 16 or older for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The U.S. has experienced more than 29 million COVID-19 infections and over 530,000 deaths in the U.S., since the beginning of the pandemic over one year ago.

On March 15, 2021 the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 310 new cases, bringing the state’s total to over 432,400. The department said there were currently 11,865 active cases and 4,701 COVID-19 deaths.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University released March 15, the rolling average number of new daily cases of the coronavirus in Oklahoma has decreased by 37 percent. While a decrease in the number of new daily cases of COVID-19 is promising, more work is needed to curb the pandemic. Increasing the availability and uptake for COVID-19 vaccinations is one of the most effective and timely ways to return to normal daily life.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, more than one million Oklahomans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The health department is offering vaccinations to people in phase three of the state’s four-phase plan, recently adding eligibility for child care workers, students and employees at colleges, universities and vocational schools and critical business workers.

Tribal governments also are vaccinating Oklahomans, according to the state health department, which is helping stem the tide of COVID-19 infections.

“The COVID-19 vaccine, when combined with responsible public health measures such as masking, responsible distancing, hand and surface hygiene, limitation of group size and contact duration, and effective air exchanges, can result in significant protection from COVID-19 infection, and serious illness and injury,” Chickasaw Nation Secretary of Health Dr. Charles Grim said. “For this reason, it is important for everyone to get vaccinated so that we can obtain ‘herd immunity’ as quickly as possible.”

Those currently diagnosed with COVID-19 must complete quarantine or isolation before scheduling an appointment.

It was Dec. 16, 2020 when Rhonda Brown, a Chickasaw elder and laboratory phlebotomy supervisor with the Chickasaw Nation Department of Health fighting on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19, received the first official dose of the COVID-19 vaccine among Chickasaw Nation employees.

“Everyone should take the opportunity to take the shot,” Ms. Brown said. “The vaccine is going to help a lot of us be healthier and more optimistic.”

The Chickasaw Nation was joining others nationwide in receiving the first doses of vaccine for health care providers.

Two days before, Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, symbolized the beginning of the national COVID-19 vaccination rollout when she received the first official U.S. COVID-19 vaccination shortly after 9 a.m., Monday, Dec. 14.

They both received the vaccination produced by Pfizer-BioNTech. Both had been on the front lines of the pandemic, offering direct health care to patients.

Gov, Anoatubby said the vaccine’s arrival marked a great day in the Chickasaw Nation.

“As we celebrate this great day, we must remain committed to the safety of those around us,” Gov. Anoatubby said then. “The COVID-19 vaccine is one more step in stopping the pandemic, which requires the use of all available tools. The combination of getting vaccinated and continuing to follow safety recommendations offers the best protection from the virus. We urge citizens everywhere to continue to wear a mask, wash your hands and watch your distance. We encourage citizens to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises vaccination supplies will increase over time and all adults should be able to be vaccinated by May 2021.

The Chickasaw Nation is assisting the state of Oklahoma with the distribution of vaccines.

The new Emergency Operations Facility in Ada is pivotal for vaccine distribution in the 13-county Chickasaw Nation territory.

The new facility serves as a unified incident command center as well as a COVID-19 drive-thru testing and vaccination site for the community.

Because it has such a big parking lot, the Chickasaw Nation will be able to manage 16 lanes of traffic to drive through and receive vaccinations.

The facility serves as a mass immunization site. It will also be a community-based distribution point for additional services such as emergency rations, water and PPE.

What to expect with initial dose of the COVID vaccine

  • Arrive at your scheduled appointment time and drive-thru location. Expect to always remain in your vehicle. Pets are not allowed in the vehicle (no exceptions).
  • For the safety of patients and staff, traffic will move slowly at all Chickasaw Nation vaccine drive-thru locations.
  • Following the vaccination, there is a required 15-minute observation time.
  • Recipients will receive a vaccine record card that will be required for the second dose.
  • Vaccine recipients should consult with a primary care provider if there are questions or concerns regarding side effects after either dose.

What to expect with second dose of vaccine

  • Second dose timeline: The Moderna vaccination is given 28 days after the first dose. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination is given 21 days after the first dose.
  • Patients will be sent an email reminder 15 days after receiving the first dose of the vaccine. The email reminder will include a link that can be used to schedule a second dose vaccination appointment.
  • Patients who were unable to use an email address to register for their first vaccination appointment must call the CNDH Vaccine Call Center 15 days after receiving their first dose. Call center staff will be able to assist the patient in scheduling a second dose vaccination appointment. A second vaccination appointment will be scheduled for the date listed on the vaccination verification card. The CNDH Vaccine Call Center phone number is (580) 272-1339.
  • When you arrive for your appointment, please have your vaccination verification card and a photo ID ready.