Tribe offering fully approved Pfizer vaccine


‘The best tool we have to reduce spread of infection’

ADA, Okla. – The Chickasaw Nation Department of Health (CNDH) now offers the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

CNDH is offering the vaccine in order to meet demand for COVID-19 vaccinations, and to streamline the process of receiving vaccination.

On Aug. 23, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, now being marketed as “Comirnaty,” for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older.

The Comirnaty vaccine also continues to be available under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), for adolescents 12-15 years of age and for the additional booster dose in immunocompromised individuals.

CNDH leaders are encouraged by the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine and are hopeful the authorization will ease the hesitancy the public may have regarding the vaccine.

“We understand that the emergency approval process caused concern for many about the safety of the vaccine,” CNDH Undersecretary Dr. John Krueger said. “However, we know the research for a vaccine to prevent coronavirus began in 2002 when SARS-CoV-1 was first discovered. The vaccine was able to be quickly identified thanks to the past research.”

Dr. Krueger has offered expert health guidance and updates as a leader within the Chickasaw Nation since the onset of the pandemic. He stressed the importance of vaccinations and voiced a trust in them.

“We are confident in the vaccine and we know it is the best tool we have to reduce the spread of infection and also prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death,” he said.

During the approval process, the FDA reviewed updated data collected during the clinical trial which supported the initial EUA, and included an extended follow-up in a larger clinical trial including approximately 40,000 participants.

Based on results from the clinical trial, the FDA reports the vaccine was 91% effective in preventing COVID-19.

The safety of Comirnaty was evaluated in a clinical trial including approximately 44,000 participants.

Much like other common vaccines, such as flu immunizations, chickenpox, hepatitis, HPV and more, COVID-19 vaccines help bodies develop immunity to the virus. Vaccines train our immune systems to create antibodies, or proteins that fight disease.

Unlike some vaccines, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine does not contain a weakened or inactive virus.

According to the FDA and Pfizer, Comirnaty contains messenger RNA (mRNA), a kind of genetic material. The mRNA is used by the body to mimic one of the proteins in the virus that causes COVID-19. The result of a person receiving this vaccine is that their immune system will ultimately react defensively to the virus that causes COVID-19.

The mRNA in Comirnaty is only present in the body for a short time and does not alter an individual’s genetic material. Comirnaty has the same formulation as the EUA vaccine and is administered as a series of two doses, three weeks apart.

Widespread vaccination is the single most effective way to control the COVID-19 virus. It will help reduce critical illness rates, and clinic, emergency department and hospital visits. It will also decrease the need for testing and treatment and, more importantly, reduce deaths.

Booster shots are available for the immunocompromised.

The additional booster dose of the vaccine will be available to those who meet immune suppressed criteria at all Chickasaw Nation clinic locations in Ada, Ardmore, Purcell and Tishomingo.

The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend an additional dose for people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised. Examples of these conditions are listed below:

  • Receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress immune response

The CDC confirms that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be used as an additional booster dose in those who received the first and second doses of the Moderna vaccine. At this time, the CDC does not recommend an additional booster dose for those who previously received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Additional booster dose vaccinations are anticipated to be available to the general population, 18 and above, as early as the end of September, or roughly eight months from the time an individual received their second vaccine.

The Chickasaw Nation continues to offer COVID-19 vaccines at no cost to everyone, regardless of tribal citizenship, employment or state residency in its aggressive pursuit of putting an end to the pandemic.

The vaccine is distributed in accordance with CDC guidance. The Comirnaty vaccination being offered was approved by the FDA. Vaccine recipients must be at least 12 years old to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine.

Vaccinations are available by appointment only at sites in Ada, Ardmore, Tishomingo and Purcell. To schedule a vaccination, visit COVIDVaccine.Chickasaw.net.

The Chickasaw Nation COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center is available at (580) 272-1339.