WMAT holds vaccine walk and drive through vaccine clinic

Cars line up for the WMAT COVID-19 walk-up/drive-thru vaccine clinic on Wednesday at the Chief Alchesay Activity Center parking lot in Whiteriver.

WHITERIVER – The WMAT COVID-19 walk-up/drive-thru vaccine clinic took place on Wednesday at the Chief Alchesay Activity Center Parking Lot from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for eligible Phase 1a, 1b and 1c groups.

Phase 1a groups include Whiteriver Service Unit employees, WMAT EMS, Apache Behavioral Health Services clinical staff, WMAT Group Home residents and staff, longterm care residents at local facilities and WMAT Community Health representatives.

Phase 1b includes frontline essential workers (non health care and persons 75 years or older that includes police and fire, DOC, school staff, tribal transportation — other transportation, traditional healers, elder feeding sites, Basha’s and other food stores, Tribal Council/EOC, Johns Hopkins Behavioral Health team, Rainbow Treatment Center and childcare staff.

Phase 1c are those who are 65 years or older, 16-to 64-year-olds with transplants or patients at risk due to underlying health conditions such as heart disease, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease and diabetes; BMI over 50 and essential workers not previously included in Phases 1a or 1b.

It was reported on Facebook by WMAT Health Education that they were assisting with the mass vaccine clinic. They stated, “Great to see so many tribal members, including elder’s, participating!”

On Dec. 15, the day the vaccine arrived, Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood received her first shot, reporting afterward that her only side effect was a sore arm. On Tuesday, 21 days later, she reported that she received her second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, again reporting only a sore arm.

In a social media post on Tuesday, Lee-Gatewood stated, “Wearing masks and social distancing help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others, but these measures are not enough. Vaccines will work with your immune system so it will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. The combination of getting vaccinated and following CDC’s recommendations to protect yourself and others will offer the best protection from COVID-19. Stopping a pandemic requires using all the tools we have available. IHS has opened the phase for those 65 and older now, please schedule your appointment.”

Reach the reporter at bbruce@wmicentral.com

Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

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