TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation this week administered its 10,000th dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to Cherokee citizens falling within the tribe’s Phase 1 and Phase 2A priority distribution plan, including frontline health care workers, first-language Cherokee speakers, and Cherokee elders.
“From Day 1 of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arriving in the Cherokee Nation, we have prioritized Cherokee speakers, Cherokee elders and our health care workers who have been on the frontlines protecting all of us during the worst health crisis we’ve seen in generations,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “I appreciate our Health Services team for working so tirelessly to provide this vaccine to the most vulnerable in our communities. They have been effective and efficient in this process, and their work is saving lives every day.”
Nearly 60 percent of the tribe’s allotted COVID-19 vaccines have been provided to first-language Cherokee speakers, Cherokee National Treasures, and Cherokees elders since the first doses arrived on Dec. 14, 2020.
“This milestone for our health system is one we are excited to celebrate,” said Cherokee Nation Health Services Executive Director Dr. R. Stephen Jones. “It’s an encouragement to our health teams to have vaccinated this many of our staff, Cherokee speakers, National Treasures, elders and now even more groups as we have entered phase 2A of our vaccine distribution plan.”
Cherokee Nation’s Phase 2A is ongoing and includes teachers working for the Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Nation child care workers, food distribution program employees and other critical staff, as well as Cherokee citizens 55 and older.
“It’s important that our people take the vaccine as soon as possible, especially those at-risk citizens,” said former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Ross Swimmer, one of the nearly 6,000 Cherokee elders recently receiving a COVID-19 vaccine through the tribe. “From the time I started learning about this vaccine several months ago, it clearly is the best opportunity people have to avoid getting the COVID virus. It would be a shame if Cherokees didn’t take advantage of this. I want to encourage all of our Cherokee elders to come in and get this vaccine. This is a landmark project and I want to express my thanks to Chief Hoskin for his work, and to the medical providers for their efforts.”
Vaccinations are being administered by appointment only for established Cherokee Nation Health Services patients with a medical chart who fall within Phase 1 and 2A of the tribe’s phased distribution plan, which is available online at health.cherokee.org.
Individuals who meet phased distribution criteria can schedule an appointment by calling 1-539-234-4099. Qualifying appointments are being scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, excluding holidays. Walk-ins are not being taken at this time.
“Vaccine uptake among our health care staff has also been an inspiration for others who meet phase criteria to get vaccinated,” Jones said. “We share our vaccine stories and educate one other to encourage even higher vaccine uptake among our health staff.”
For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, including answers to frequently asked questions, or to find Cherokee Nation Health Service registration forms and the latest updates to the Cherokee Nation COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, visit health.cherokee.org.
There were more than 13,800 positive cases of COVID-19 within the Cherokee Nation as of Jan. 28. Cherokee Nation Health Services has reported 90 deaths caused by COVID-19.