COVID-19 vaccinations for elders in Horse Lake First Nation began last Wednesday, said Azar Kamran, Horse Lake First Nation chief executive officer.
Horse Lake School also re-opened last week and the daycare two weeks ago, and the buses to schools in other communities resumed last week, he said.
Chief Ramona Horseman said the community is expecting its second batch of vaccine doses in the next 30 to 48 days.
“Once we have the second batch, I’ll be excited,” Horseman said.
“It’s a battle. I’m really praying to the Creator that all of us will be safe.”
Horseman noted the pandemic has been difficult for many First Nations due to multi-generational households and the difficulty of residents to self-isolate.
“If one person in the house got it, then you had four or five cases in each house,” she said.
At one point in late January, 20 homes were under isolation, according to the Horse Lake Wellness Centre.
Horseman noted other First Nations have been hit harder, and many of those communities had smaller populations. Horse Lake has a population of 437, according to Indigenous Affairs Canada.
“Horse Lake is really fortunate that we did not have anybody die, though there were hospitalizations,” Horseman said.
Horse Lake First Nation received 30 doses of Moderna vaccine to administer to elders above the age of 60, Kamran said.
The vaccinations are starting with the eldest community members and then going down by age, he added.
Kamran said the vaccinations are being administered through the Horse Lake Wellness Centre.
The immunizations rolled out as the Horse Lake Wellness Centre reported no cases in the community last Thursday, following a spike in January.
“It’s great the cases have gone down, and we don’t have any as of (last Thursday),” Kamran said.
Kamran credited residents’ work in isolating and social distancing with bringing the case count down.
According to the wellness centre, there have been 51 COVID-19 cases and all have recovered.
“I do know there are some studies about the long-term effects of COVID, so we’re crossing our fingers and keeping in touch with all the people who had COVID and making sure any health needs are met,” Horseman said.
Nurses have performed 377 COVID tests, according to the wellness centre.
Horse Lake has a small school for Grade 1 to 3 students, with approximately 24 students.
It had closed in November at band council’s direction and buses to other schools didn’t run from November to February.
Outside Horse Lake, there are 13 active COVID-19 cases in the west county at press time. The rest of the County of Grande Prairie has 28 cases with three deaths to date. The City of Grande Prairie has 219 active cases with 21 deaths to date.
Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News