Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to arrive at Anahim Lake Tuesday, Dec. 29

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A delivery of precious cargo is anticipated to make its way amid the COVID-19 pandemic to Anahim Lake west of Williams Lake Tuesday, Dec. 29.

Ulkatcho First Nation members and surrounding non-Indigenous residents of Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake will be among the first in B.C. to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine this week.

Prior to the start of inoculation, available for residents 18 years and older, First Nations Health Authority representatives will be holding a meeting outside the Ulkatcho First Nation Community Hall Tuesday morning to help individuals make an informed decision on the benefits and risks associated with the vaccine.

The first of two doses will be offered to Indigenous elders first, followed by the remainder of Ulkatcho residents on Dec. 30 and Dec. 31. A second dose is required 28 days later.

“I think it’s great it’s getting into the northern communities, and it’s important,” said Cariboo Regional District Area J director Gerald Kirby.

“The exciting part is that the rural communities are getting it in the early stage which as you know in the rural area, there are fewer health care services available.”

Anahim Lake is one of 10 rural and remote Indigenous communities with limited access to health care services across the province receiving the Moderna vaccine this week. While there is a nursing station at Anahim Lake, the nearest hospital for residents needing further medical attention is in Williams Lake.

The Moderna vaccine is one of two approved by Health Canada in the fight against COVID-19. Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Moderna’s version does not require ultra-cold storage and can be more easily transported into rural and remote communities.

FNHA said the next phase of the vaccine rollout will continue to prioritize such communities, and communities that have already experienced larger numbers of Covid-19 cases.

“The Moderna vaccine is a community-wide game changer in our fight against Covid-19, but this does not mean we can let our guard down,” FNHA noted.

“Until there is sufficient population immunity, all Ulkatcho First Nation members and residents need to continue to do their part in minimizing the spread by washing their hands, wearing masks, staying home when sick, practicing social distancing and keeping their bubble small.”

Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune