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Update on COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout for Indigenous Communities

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Statement

March 9, 2021 | As Dr. Henry said in today’s call with Chiefs and leaders, there was much confusion in recent weeks about the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine to First Nation individuals in BC. The FNHC is working alongside the BC Ministry of Health and other partners to clarify these issues; it appreciates Dr. Bonnie Henry’s acknowledgement and apology for the lapse in communicating recent changes to BC’s vaccine roll-out plan. Last week at the BC AFN Special Chiefs Assembly, I noted that BC needs to work with First Nations as full partners in the COVID-19 Immunization Plan in a way that meets the needs of our people.

Whole-of-Community approach is the FNHC’s top priority. The original plan for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out specifically called for a whole-of-community approach for First Nations peoples in BC. This means giving vaccines first to Elders, those over 65 and/or with underlying health – along with vaccinations for members of households and the larger community to protect fully protect Indigenous populations. This approach includes vaccinations for citizens living off reserve and in rural and remote communities, and is grounded in recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization about which groups should receive the vaccine first.

Global vaccine roll-out issues affecting BC. The delays in manufacturing of the COVID-19 vaccines around the world – as well as supply, delivery and administration issues – is in the news each day. The FNHC recognizes that BC and Canada are affected by these issues as each country – and in Canada, each province (as Dr. Henry reminded us all today) – deals with the challenges of delivering the world’s largest immunization effort in history. The FNHC acknowledges that BC prioritized getting vaccines to rural, remote and isolated Indigenous communities.

Advocacy for First Nations health and wellness. The FNHC’s priority is to advocate for the health and wellness of First Nation citizens. Each of the FNHC’s 15 elected representatives are responsible to the Chiefs and Leaders in BC’s five regions. The FNHC will continue to work alongside its Tripartite Agreement partners in BC and Canada to enhance clarity and communications about any future changes to the. vaccine roll-out plan. And the FNHC will continue to advocate for the Whole-of-Community approach as the best way to ensure the protection of our people.

The FNHA COVID-19 portal has current information on the vaccine roll-out, as well as other updates and guidelines.

About the First Nations Health Council (FNHC) The FNHC is one of four pillars of the First Nations Health Governance Structure in BC, along with its partners at the FNHA, the FNHDA and the Tripartite Committee on First Nations Health including the BC and federal government. Formed in 2010 with a mandate to oversee transformation of the health system, make progress on the Social Determinants for Health and advocate for First Nations decision-making in health and wellness, the FNHC provides political leadership for implementation of Tripartite commitments and supports the health priorities for BC First Nations.

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