After experiencing tremendous loss, the commitment of Tribal leaders and members from many Native communities to safeguard their communities – first and foremost – led to innovative culturally-centered vaccine mobilization efforts and educational campaigns to protect their most important legacy: their people.
The Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center (AASTEC) has been instrumental in creating culturally centered COVID-19 educational materials and conducting webinars on COVID-19 case and contact monitoring, vaccinations and much more.
When creating the materials, AASTEC Program Director Michele Suina, Ph.D. said, “It’s important to weave together Native values and understandings of health with western public health guidelines so that education campaigns reflect who we are and what is meaningful to us. At the same time, we need the most recent public health guidance to help minimize harm to our communities from COVID-19.”
AASTEC launched the Native American COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline (1-833-VAX-AIAN/1-833-829-2426) for the Tribes, Pueblos, Bands, Nations and urban Indian communities in the Albuquerque IHS Administrative Area. Trained navigators are available to assist with up-to-date information about COVID-19 vaccines.
The Navajo Nation was among the first to participate in COVID-19 vaccination trials, and its members heard firsthand from family members and neighbors the safeguards of the vaccine.
Nonprofit organizations like the women-led Yee Ha’ólníi Doo used creative methods to increase the vaccination rates in Navajo communities with their large-scale vaccination campaign, #ProtectCommunity. Yee Ha’ólníi Doo used door drop campaigns, flea market tabling events, phone banking, an incentive program, social media live educational events, videos, influencer posters and Indigenous language comic book-style educational campaigns. They also held live radio Q&A sessions where people could call in and speak with Tribal health care professionals about their questions and concerns.