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Covid-19 cases stabilize; booster shots approved

The Betty Mae Jumper Medical Center in Hollywood. (Courtesy photo)

HOLLYWOOD — After a concerning rise in positive Covid-19 cases among tribal members, cases have begun to decline. The tribe had seen its steepest increase over the summer months but some signs of decline in late September. October’s numbers have continued to spur optimism, according to the tribe’s Health and Human Services (HHS) executive director, Dr. Vandhana Kiswani-Barley.

Kiswani-Barley said the improvement was good news, but not a reason for people to let down their guard. The tribe continues to encourage those who have not received a vaccine to do so. The tribal population is considered high risk.

On Oct. 25, HHS decided to return to normal service at its clinics instead of for essential visits only.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized booster shots from the three main vaccine
distributors – Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. The FDA also authorized that individuals can receive a different vaccine brand for their booster shot if desired.

There are eligibility restrictions. Moderna and Pfizer recipients should wait six months after the second shot to receive a booster. The Moderna and Pfizer boosters are approved for those 65 and older, and for those 18 and older who are at high risk of severe disease. Frontline workers are also eligible.

Johnson & Johnson recipients should wait two months after their first dose. The Johnson & Johnson booster is approved for all individuals 18 years and older who received the first dose.

Additionally, HHS said Pfizer is seeking an emergency use authorization to offer vaccines to those 5 to 11 years old. Kiswani-Barley said the tribe has placed an order with the Indian Health Service to be one of the first groups to receive the vaccine for the age group. The dose for this age group is half of an adult dosage, she said.

Kiswani-Barley added that flu season has arrived and that the tribe is also administering flu vaccines for those six
months and older.

Tribal members can call their local clinic or the HHS hotline at (833) 786-3458 for more information about the Covid-19
vaccine, booster shots, antibody treatments and the flu vaccine. Tribal employees can call the hotline for vaccine information as well.

Pharmacy grand opening

HHS has announced that the tribe’s satellite pharmacy, located at the Betty Mae Jumper Medical Center in Hollywood, is having a grand opening Nov. 1. Tribal members will have access to a walk-up or drive-thru option for pick up of prescriptions and will be able to meet pharmacy staff members.

The center is located at 111 W. Coral Way on the Hollywood Reservation. HHS officials said the Sheridan Street and
Big Cypress pharmacies would remain operational.

For additional pharmacy information, call (954) 965-1312.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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