The CDC reports that Native Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19 at higher rates than any other group in the country. This after “contracting” covid at higher rates early in the pandemic. We spoke with Deanna Sangster, chief operating officer of native health, to learn more about the fight against covid in american indian communities.
Sangster said that she wasn’t surprised to see that, although there’s a lot of different factors that go into it.
“There were a lot of things that, even with my experience, I was skeptical on. But over time I saw our medical director get vaccinated and I thought well I trust her,” Sangster said. She said that she’s heard a similar story throughout other communities and groups.
“There was a lot of distrust in the beginning and people wanted to see what was going to happen,” Sangster said. “But once they were able to see that there wasn’t very many side effects, like minimal headaches, body aches, whatever. Comparing that to actually getting COVID encouraged a lot of people to get the vaccine.”
Sangster also attributed much of the vaccination progress to education on the matter.
“There have been a lot of efforts towards educating our communities in the vaccine and in health,” she said.
She also said that the damage the pandemic did to different indigenous groups around the country last year contributed to the increased vaccination rates.
“Since December the AZDHS recorded that over 98,000 American Indians had received the vaccines,” Sangster said. They had their boots on the ground and got out, trying to make an effort in the community and spread awareness towards being vaccinated.