Ehhattesaht First Nation chief Simon John receives a shot of the Moderna vaccine today morning at the Ehatis reserve near Zeballos. (Submitted photo)

Ehhattesaht First Nation chief Simon John receives a shot of the Moderna vaccine today morning at the Ehatis reserve near Zeballos. (Submitted photo)

Vaccine arrives for COVID-19-battered Vancouver Island First Nations

Ehattesaht Chinehkint and Kyuquot/Checleseht members ‘scared’ and ‘excited’ as vaccinations underway

Two west Vancouver Island First Nations have begun their COVID-19 vaccination drive after the arrival of the Moderna vaccine in their communities.

The COVID-19-battered Ehattesaht Chinehkint First Nations (ECFN) near Zeballos and the Kyuquot/Checleseht First Nations (KCFN) on the Island’s northwest corner are among eight select B.C. First Nations to have received the vaccines.

Ehhattesht started a two-day vaccination drive on Jan. 4 for its 100-member community in Ehatis reserve.

The remote First Nation locked down after a 42-day outbreak saw 28 members testing positive in December. The lockdown was lifted between Christmas and New Year’s after the outbreak was contained.

“We were informed on the 28th (of December) that vaccines were in transit and we started to plan the roll out with our membership right away. It was decided that chief and council needed to go first to show leadership and demonstrate the importance of the vaccine,” said band manager and COVID-19 response coordinator Darlene Smith.

READ MORE: Remote B.C. First Nations to begin getting Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine this week

Chief Simon John said band members are “nervous” about taking the vaccines, which is why the leadership stepped up to receive the first doses.

“For me this feels a bit historic,” said John. “I know First Nations in remote communities have been asking to be first for a long time and I think this gives us some comfort since we are a long way from a hospital.”

The vaccines will be administered by two nurses in the nation’s health wing and a third nurse will be monitoring the vaccine recipients. A nurse navigator will also go door-to-door in the community to address members’ concerns, Smith says.

KCFN, meanwhile will begin its vaccination drive Wednesday, Jan. 6 and continue until Friday Jan.8.

READ MORE: Ehatis continues its COVID-19 outbreak battle with new cases, recoveries and strict bylaws

Steinar Vage, the band’s director of community services said Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) nurses will bring in the vaccines and they will be administered to KCFN members in Houpsitas. KCFN has an estimated population of 164 members living on reserve.

“We have people that are concerned and also those who are excited about the vaccines,” said Vage.

Although he did not disclose the number of doses KCFN received, he said they are hoping to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

NTC, which represents 14 First Nations, including Ehhattesaht and KCFN, is urging its members to take the latest Health Canada-approved Moderna vaccine when it becomes available.

In a statement, NTC leadership tells its membership that the vaccines have both gone through rigorous testing and approval processes, only being approved by Health Canada once deemed safe and effective.

“We encourage anyone over the age of 18, not breastfeeding, and not allergic to any of the ingredients, to take the vaccine when it becomes available in your community.”

The First Nations are receiving the Moderna vaccine, because the first approved COVID-19 vaccines in Canada – the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – requires subfreezing temperatures for storage (-70) challenging transportation and storage logistics to remote communities.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

CoronavirusFirst Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Letters to the editor.
Budget transparency and full disclosure please

Should hiking trail cost not be in the parks and recreation budget?

Extensive water on No. 4 and 5 at the Mount Brenton Golf Course following heavy rains earlier this month. (Photo submitted)
Mount Brenton Golf Course does a booming business in 2020

A total of 15,000 more rounds played than the previous year

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

Last year’s session with the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP at the Chemainus Legion Hall. (File photo by Don Bodger)
North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP want public input

In-person forums not being held this year

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read