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Posted: March 31, 2021

Health workers give out the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at FireLake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma, on February 19, 2021. Photo courtesy Citizen Potawatomi Nation

Citizen Potawatomi Nation Distributes 10,000th COVID-19 Vaccine Dose

Tribe offers jab of hope to tribe members, local community

SHAWNEE, Oklahoma (March 31, 2021) – The Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN) recently celebrated an important milestone in the fight against COVID-19. The tribe administered its 10,000th dose of the vaccine Friday.

“Many people within our tribe came together and gave maximum effort to reach this milestone,” said CPN Health Services Chief Medical Officer Dr. George A. Vascellaro. “We’re dedicated to providing our local community with access to the vaccine, and it’s been a privilege to provide so many people with a jab of hope.”

Don Delzer, the spouse of a tribal member, received the 10,000th shot.

“I’m really thankful CPN opened their vaccination efforts up to tribal member households. We have high risk family members, so this allows us to help protect our family and alleviate some of the stress associated with the possibility of transmitting the virus to others,” he said.

COVID-19 Vaccination Drive at CPNs West Clinic, Friday, January 8, 2021. Photo courtesy Citizen Potawatomi Nation

In 2020, CPN began preparations to distribute the vaccine by using CARES Act funds to purchase the ultra-cold storage equipment necessary to house the Pfizer vaccines for the tribe, Pottawatomie County Health Department and Indian Health Services.

Vascellaro said the tribe prioritized vaccinating its elders, critical infrastructure employees and first responders, then quickly expanded to tribal members and CPN Health Services patients. Soon after, it offered vaccinations to any member of a federally recognized tribe.

In addition to these efforts, CPN hosted community vaccination events for non-tribal members of the local community. CPN also partnered with 14 schools, businesses and local organizations to distribute the vaccine, such as Seminole State College (SSC).

“We are so grateful to Citizen Potawatomi Nation for making the COVID-19 vaccine available to many of our Seminole State College students, employees and their family members,” said SSC President Lana Reynolds. “The health and safety of our employees is vital, and we are thankful to CPN for providing us with these much needed COVID vaccinations.”  

Matt Higdon receives his second does of the COVID-19 vaccine from Norma Cleere, Friday, January 29, 2021. Photo courtesy Citizen Potawatomi Nation

While CPN celebrates the 10,000th shot milestone, tribal leaders know they aren’t close to the finish line.

“Our focus remains on providing vaccination opportunities and education to people in rural areas,” said Vascellaro. “Citizen Potawatomi Nation has been critical in vaccinating the Shawnee area, and we will continue to partner with local agencies, schools and organizations to end this public health crisis.”

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