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Tribe to host Covid-19 vaccine drive

HOLLYWOOD — In an effort to increase the Covid-19 vaccination rate among members of the Seminole Tribe, the Health and Human Services department (HHS) is set to host a vaccine drive.

Dr. Vandhana Kiswani-Barley, the executive director of HHS, said the drive would take place at all of the tribe’s reservations from June 1 to June 4.

She said hosting a drive is important because as of late May less than 25% of the tribal community had been fully vaccinated. For comparison, the state of Florida has fully vaccinated about 38% of its population. The number of people requesting the vaccine from HHS had begun to decline in April.

“We have a little over 1,000 individuals, tribal and members of the community tribalwide, who have received at least one dose of the vaccine,” Kiswani-Barley said.

Seminole Tribe of Florida employees have received 774 vaccines and Seminole Gaming employees in Florida have received 1,980. On May 13, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that fully vaccinated people no longer had to wear masks indoors, except in hospitals, on public transit and in other specified places. The CDC had already lifted its requirement for wearing masks outdoors. However, Kiswani-Barley said the tribe would, at least for the time being, require masks in all tribal buildings “to ensure the safety of our vulnerable population.”

The staff from the tribe’s Public Safety department will help administer the shots during the vaccine drive.

“We’re encouraging all individuals to call [their respective health] clinics to get screened to receive the vaccine,” she said.

Kiswani-Barley said anyone 12 years and older is eligible to receive the vaccine. Eligibility had previously been for those 16 and older. The tribe has three vaccines available – Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

Those who want to receive the vaccine can call the HHS hotline at (833) 786-3458 for more information.

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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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