Government offices with the Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN), except for essential services, remain closed. (Rebecca Dyok photo)

Government offices with the Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN), except for essential services, remain closed. (Rebecca Dyok photo)

Moderna vaccine on the way for Williams Lake First Nation elders

Vaccination process expedited as cases climb to 26

The Williams Lake First Nation (WLFN) will be receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine much sooner than anticipated as cases among its membership continues to increase.

As of 4 p.m. Jan. 13, emergency operations centre (EOC) director Brittany Cleminson said 26 members had tested positive, with nurses from Three Corners Health Society conducting more than 100 tests.

“For context, we understand that there are approximately 77 cases in the Cariboo Chilcotin health coverage area, with that, we anticipate that we may receive some additional positive cases over the next few days,” Cleminson said.

On behalf of the WLFN EOC, Cleminson said she was excited to announce WLFN has received a commitment from Interior Health (IH) to supply the first dose of the Moderna vaccine to WLFN elders in the Williams Lake area.

Read More: Another 84 COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health

“Plans are currently in motion to prepare the vaccine delivery and distribution,” Cleminson said, expressing gratitude to IH medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema and IH executive director Lisa Zetes-Zanatta.

“This could occur as quickly next week.”

WLFN Chief Willie Sellars said by IH stepping-up it will alleviate a lot of pressure on not only leadership and EOC staff but their community.

“It really is encouraging to hear,” Sellars said, noting WLFN has been lobbying hard for vaccinations for a while.

“Because of our location and not being remote, it has been very challenging to get uptake on our asks but with the outbreak, it has expedited the delivery,” he said.

The WLFN community of Sugar Cane is located fewer than 10 kilometres south of Williams Lake where a COVID-19 outbreak was declared Jan. 13 at Cariboo Memorial Hospital.

Read More: COVID-19 outbreak declared at Cariboo Memorial Hospital by Interior Health

If the vaccination process had not been expedited, Sellars said WLFN would likely not have been eligible to receive the vaccine until March.

“To take care of our elders and those with immune-compromised systems is definitely at the top of our priority considering what is going on in community,” Sellars said.

“I think the response from Interior Health is right on the money — let’s get these people vaccinated and put them out of harm’s way.”

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