By Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – The vaccination rate for Indigenous people across Canada is going incredibly well. As of June 8, 540,581 vaccine doses have been administered in individuals aged 12 and older in 687 First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities.
80 percent of individuals aged 18 and older in First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Over 72 percent of individuals aged 12 and older in First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Of this group, 41% have received their second dose.
In the Alberta general population, the vaccine rollout has also been very successful; it is currently hovering at 67% with at least one shot. The next milestone will be to reach a 70 percent vaccination rate and further restrictions will be removed.
As an incentive Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced the “Open for Summer” lottery, a vaccination lottery in the province created to encourage more people to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Three $1-million prizes will be available to people 18 and over who received at least one vaccination within 7 days of the province reaching a 70 percent vaccination rate.
In a video filmed at an empty Edmonton Expo Centre, one of Alberta’s larger flow-through vaccination clinics, Premier Kenney said, “No one is here. We’re not getting enough demand right now.”
“Many places around the world have launched similar lotteries like this because we need to just nudge those who haven’t gotten around to getting their vaccines yet,” said Kenney.
For example, Manitoba is holding two lottery draws of $100,000 prizes and $25,000 youth scholarships.
“We’ve had to spend billions of dollars in our health care system and through supporting people through the past 16 tough months. If we could just keep pushing up those numbers of people who are vaccinated, that will easily pay for itself in future savings.”
“Please do your part because now your vaccine shot is also your shot at a million dollars. And you can help to keep yourself, your friends safe, and help us all get back to normal,” concluded the Premier.
The first lottery will be drawn on the first day of Alberta’s stage 3 re-opening plan.
Despite the current vaccination rates, COVID cases are still present in Alberta. However, as of June 13, Alberta recorded a case count of 3180 – its lowest since October 2020. There were 165 new infections and sadly, 1 new death. There were 272 people in hospital and 75 in intensive care. The positivity rate of tests was 2.8%.
There are still COVID infections on-reserve in First Nations across Alberta.
- Enoch has had a total of 188 on-reserve cases and as of May 25 there were 4 active cases on-reserve. 2 Nation members have died from the disease.
- Blood Tribe, as of June 11, has only 2 active cases on-reserve. However their total amount of on-reserve cases is 618. 10 Blood Tribe members have passed away from COVID.
- In Samson Cree Nation there has been a total of 47 active cases as of June 10. The Nation has had a total of 2132 cases and 17 deaths.
- In Fort McKay, things are looking up as 72 percent of First Nation members eligible for vaccinations have received at least one dose. The First Nation also has 0 COVID cases.
On First Nations reserves, as of June 10 Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is aware of:
– 30,701 confirmed positive COVID-19
– 851 active cases
– 1,384 hospitalizations
– 29,501 recovered cases
– 349 deaths
Case numbers per region:
– British Columbia: 3,121
– Alberta: 8,645
– Saskatchewan: 7,357
– Manitoba: 8,375
– Ontario: 2,440
– Quebec: 741
– Atlantic: 22
The First Nations Health Managers Association (FNHMA) Weekly Virtual Town Hall podcast features speakers from different organizations who provide credible and reliable information about COVID-19 from an Indigenous perspective, including resources, and updates about what their organizations are doing to combat the pandemic.
The podcast is broadcast on Wednesdays at 11 pm MDT at ihtoday.com and it can also be viewed on Alberta Native News Facebook page as well as other sites. It is screened on APTN on Saturdays at 3 pm MDT. Missed an episode? Visit ihtoday.com to get caught up.