Back in March, we shared how Native American Nations were improving Covid-19 vaccination rates across Oklahoma, but that isn’t the only state where Native American communities are taking pandemic management into their own hands. In Arizona, the White Mountain Apache Tribe has proved to be a model for managing a pandemic. Let’s take a deeper look at how they addressed the crisis.
Like many other tribes, the White Mountain Apache were hit hard by cases early in the pandemic. By September of 2020, the tribe had recorded 2,400 cases and had lost 39 people.
In response, the tribe created a response team made up of medical professionals and community leaders. The group met each morning and proceeded to go door to door, evaluating case numbers and tracking down potential exposures. When they identified a potential exposure, they used thermometers and pulse oximeters to stop outbreaks in their tracks.
The response team also identified high-risk members of the community and checked in to make sure they were receiving the help they needed to reduce exposure to public spaces.
These relationships formed with the community early on in the pandemic allowed the response team to form a foundation for vaccine outreach, once vaccines became available. These trusted doctors and leaders were now in the perfect position to reassure vaccine-hesitant residents about the safety and necessity of inoculation.
The White Apache Nation serves as an example of how community outreach and community can improve pandemic outcomes. Their strategy can even potentially be applied to vaccine-hesitant regions to improve vaccination rates and public health.
Image source: Cronkite News