Ehhattesaht First Nation chief Simon John receives a shot of the Moderna vaccine today morning at the Ehatis reserve near Zeballos. (Submitted photo)

Ehhattesaht First Nation chief Simon John receives a shot of the Moderna vaccine today morning at the Ehatis reserve near Zeballos. (Submitted photo)

Vaccine arrives for COVID-19-battered Vancouver Island First Nations

Ehattesaht Chinehkint and Kyuquot/Checleseht members ‘scared’ and ‘excited’ as vaccinations underway

Two west Vancouver Island First Nations have begun their COVID-19 vaccination drive after the arrival of the Moderna vaccine in their communities.

The COVID-19-battered Ehattesaht Chinehkint First Nations (ECFN) near Zeballos and the Kyuquot/Checleseht First Nations (KCFN) on the Island’s northwest corner are among eight select B.C. First Nations to have received the vaccines.

Ehhattesht started a two-day vaccination drive on Jan. 4 for its 100-member community in Ehatis reserve.

The remote First Nation locked down after a 42-day outbreak saw 28 members testing positive in December. The lockdown was lifted between Christmas and New Year’s after the outbreak was contained.

“We were informed on the 28th (of December) that vaccines were in transit and we started to plan the roll out with our membership right away. It was decided that chief and council needed to go first to show leadership and demonstrate the importance of the vaccine,” said band manager and COVID-19 response coordinator Darlene Smith.

READ MORE: Remote B.C. First Nations to begin getting Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine this week

Chief Simon John said band members are “nervous” about taking the vaccines, which is why the leadership stepped up to receive the first doses.

“For me this feels a bit historic,” said John. “I know First Nations in remote communities have been asking to be first for a long time and I think this gives us some comfort since we are a long way from a hospital.”

The vaccines will be administered by two nurses in the nation’s health wing and a third nurse will be monitoring the vaccine recipients. A nurse navigator will also go door-to-door in the community to address members’ concerns, Smith says.

KCFN, meanwhile will begin its vaccination drive Wednesday, Jan. 6 and continue until Friday Jan.8.

READ MORE: Ehatis continues its COVID-19 outbreak battle with new cases, recoveries and strict bylaws

Steinar Vage, the band’s director of community services said Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) nurses will bring in the vaccines and they will be administered to KCFN members in Houpsitas. KCFN has an estimated population of 164 members living on reserve.

“We have people that are concerned and also those who are excited about the vaccines,” said Vage.

Although he did not disclose the number of doses KCFN received, he said they are hoping to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

NTC, which represents 14 First Nations, including Ehhattesaht and KCFN, is urging its members to take the latest Health Canada-approved Moderna vaccine when it becomes available.

In a statement, NTC leadership tells its membership that the vaccines have both gone through rigorous testing and approval processes, only being approved by Health Canada once deemed safe and effective.

“We encourage anyone over the age of 18, not breastfeeding, and not allergic to any of the ingredients, to take the vaccine when it becomes available in your community.”

The First Nations are receiving the Moderna vaccine, because the first approved COVID-19 vaccines in Canada – the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – requires subfreezing temperatures for storage (-70) challenging transportation and storage logistics to remote communities.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

CoronavirusFirst Nations

Just Posted

Eke Me-Xi students enjoy a field trip to Malcolm Island. (Submitted photos)
Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre takes field trip to Malcolm Island

Once at Bere Point, students made themselves at home in the day-use area

Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair logo
Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair cancelled again due to COVID-19 restrictions

The 2022 fall fair is still scheduled to take place in Port Hardy

North Island Gazette
EDITORIAL: What to do about homelessness in Port Hardy

‘people suffering from homelessness deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion’

North Island Eagles logo
North Island Eagles give update on the upcoming 2021-2022 season

The North Island Eagles minor rep hockey teams are getting ready for… Continue reading

Ma Murrays 2021 virtual ceremony screenshot
North Island Gazette wins big at 2021 Ma Murray Newspaper Awards

Zoe Ducklow and Bill McQuarrie both won gold at the online ceremony

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read