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COVID-19 vaccinations accelerate in fly-in First Nations communities

NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler says he's encouraged by the number of people getting the shots.
Ornge vaccination team two
Vaccination teams such as this group gathered in a hangar in Thunder Bay are being deployed to 31 remote NAN communities and Moosonee over the next three months (Ornge photo)

THUNDER BAY — Hundreds of residents in five remote Northern Ontario first nations will have access to vaccinations against the COVID-19 virus Monday.

Operation Remote Immunity will see vaccination teams flying to Neskantaga, Muskrat Dam, Slate Falls, Fort Severn and Kashechewan this week.

The plan was co-developed by Ornge – Ontario's air ambulance service – and Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

Last week, Weenusk First Nation was the first community to be visited by a vaccination team.

Dr. Homer Tien, Ornge CEO, expressed thanks in a statement to residents who are assisting by encouraging participation, setting up the local clinics, and providing translation services.

NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said today marks a significant step towards ending the COVID-19 pandemic in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation.

"The number of community members giving their consent to receive the vaccine is encouraging. I look forward to this momentum continuing within the coming days as more teams enter our communities," Fiddler added.

Besides Ornge, distribution of the Moderna vaccine involves medical professionals representing the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, the federal government's First Nations Inuit Health Branch, the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, Queen's University and the University of Toronto among other parties.

Team members have all received the full COVID-19 vaccine and have undergone cultural training.



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