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

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

A fire broke out near the Willow Point Bottle Depot early on Jan. 22. Photo courtesy Ashley Laycock
Two injured in early-morning fire in Campbell River

Sailboat fire also attended by Campbell River fire crews

A Vancouver Island teacher has started a petition imploring B.C. Premier John Horgan to close provincial borders to non-essential travel and enforce stricter quarantine measures for travellers. (B.C. government)
Teacher launches petition for B.C. to close provincial border, impose stricter quarantine

Province says what works elsewhere may not work here as they look into legalities of such actions

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Campbell River area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

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

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

More than 100 B.C. fishermen, fleet leaders, First Nations leaders and other salmon stakeholders are holding a virtual conference Jan. 21-22 to discuss a broad-range of issues threatening the commercial salmon fishery. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. commercial salmon fishermen discuss cures for an industry on the brink

Two-day virtual conference will produce key reccomendations for DFO

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

Angela Waldick is the new team photographer for the Nanaimo NightOwls. (Nanaimo NightOwls photo)
Half-blind photographer will help new Island baseball team look picture-perfect

Nanaimo NightOwls say legally blind team photographer is making history

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

Most Read