Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) COVID-19 Update
|Thunder Bay District Health Unit||Total Number: 630|
Active Cases: 54, with 4 hospitalized, 1 in the ICU (9 new cases reported on January 7)
Deceased: 22 (18 more than our last report, all Roseview LTC residents)
|Porcupine Health Unit||Number of cases: 135|
Active Cases: 6 (2 new cases were announced January 6 in the Timmins region)
|Northwestern Health Unit||Total Number: 205 (201 positive test results, 4 probable cases)|
Active: 38 (2 new cases in Kenora and 6 new cases in the Rainy River region were reported January 7)
Deaths: 1 (announced December 23)
|Public Health Sudbury & Districts||Total Number: 304|
Active: 32 (8 new cases reported January 6)
|Timiskaming Health Unit||Total Number: 84|
Active: 14 (last new case announced January 6 in the central part of the District of Timiskaming)
NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler Update
As of Monday, January 11th, Grand Chief and Dr. Homer Tien (Ornge CEO) will begin reaching out to NAN Chiefs identified under Phase I of the provincial vaccine roll out.
It is vital that NAN Chiefs in Phase I of the vaccine roll out identify an individual at the community-level to work as their Community Coordinator as soon as possible.
NAN will ensure that each community has a strong network of support through this initiative.
NAN, Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA), Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA), Ontario and Canada are working to develop vaccine awareness material, as there is a critical need to ensure this information is widely accessible.
- Educational and awareness materials on the COVID-19 vaccine will be posted on the NAN COVID-19 web site (www.nancovid19.ca), social media, and information will be broadcast on Wawatay Radio.
- NAN recognizes that there is a need to continue focusing on ongoing challenges, including mental health, addictions, and education. These important conversations and updates will resume on our next regular NAN Chiefs Call. The issue of the release of inmates from correctional facilities and the need for communities to be notified, while respecting privacy requirements, will also be on our next agenda.
Update – Dr. Isaac Bogoch
- Dr. Bogoch, Infectious Diseases Physician and Scientist, committed to supporting NAN Chiefs with any questions they may have in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine.
- NAN chiefs are encouraged to submit any questions that they or their membership may have about the COVID-19 vaccine to email@example.com, and NAN will work to obtain answers to those questions from Dr. Isaac Bogoch directly, and then share that information back.
- Over 3 million people have received the vaccine in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada.
- Serious adverse effects are very rare.
- There have been reports of very mild side effects, including headaches, or muscle aches and pains. These side effects go away.
- In the very rare event of a serious allergic reaction, a medical team would be immediately available and prepared to deal with it.
- Dr. Bogoch will join next Chiefs Call on January 14, 2021.
Roll Out Update – Homer Tien, CEO, Ornge
- Homer Tien, CEO, Ornge, provided a detailed presentation on the COVID-19 vaccine roll out.
- A copy of the presentation is attached to this bulletin.
- All NAN Chiefs identified under Phase I will be contacted as part of the planning process.
- The goal is to complete COVID-19 vaccinations for the 31 remote fly-in communities by April 30, 2021.
- Any individuals who enter NAN communities as part of the vaccine roll out will have already received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine prior to entering the communities.
- Those who enter communities as part of the vaccine roll out will have also received cultural sensitivity training, prior to entering the communities.
- Initial sequencing of vaccination roll out is as follows:
- James Bay Coast – long term care (LTC) patients and health care workers (HCW) done by WAHA.
- Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre (SLMHC) – LTC patients and HCWs done by SLMHC HCW.
- Equity between tribal councils is one of the guiding principles.
- The smallest and most remote communities will be prioritized.
- If a community does not feel ready to receive the vaccine, the wishes of the community Leadership would be respected, and the next community on the list would be contacted.
- For interested communities, Community Coordinators must be agreed upon and identified by each NAN First Nation.
- It is extremely important to prioritize the identification of Community Coordinators, so that detailed community-level planning may begin.
- It is expected that ISC will provide funding information in the coming days.
- An operation centre will be established to monitor aircraft going in and out of NAN communities and will be able to provide updates to Chiefs and Councils on a daily basis about the aircraft and teams.
- Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay and Timmins will be “hubs”, meaning that the vaccine will be transported from central locations to the hubs, where they can be stored and transferred to communities. Moosonee is a hub for the James Bay coastal area.
- Task Team Basic Organization:
- 6-person team.
- The Task Team Leader will work hand in hand with the Community Coordinator.
- Community Coordinators will help to identify those who need to receive the vaccination first, who is unable to get to the central location, identify drivers and translators, identify admin, as well as engagement and communications strategy in the community.
- Individuals who did not receive a dose during the first visit will be able to receive it during the second visit.
- A plan will be put into place to leave vaccine at the nursing station to ensure they receive second dose.
- A proposed sequence of arrival dates has been developed. As soon as updates are given, they will be communicated with leadership.
Q & A on Roll Out – Grand Chief, Homer Tien, Deputy Minister Shawn Batise
Has the medical community considered the possibility of genetic mutations from the vaccine?
There is no medical basis for concerns about genetic mutation.
Why won’t youth under age 18 be vaccinated as part of the vaccine roll out?
The vaccines currently available have only been tested on the adult population, as it is safest to test on adults. The medical community is confident that the vaccine is very safe for adults. Pregnant women and children are more vulnerable. Research and testing for children and youth is ongoing. We would revisit this if/when approved by Health Canada as safe for children and youth.
Why will NAN communities receive the Moderna vaccine instead of the Pfizer vaccine?
The Moderna vaccine will be brought into communities for logistical reasons, as it is easier to transport and does not need to be stored in special freezers. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored and transported at -70 degrees Celsius, and it must be mixed (diluted).
Will Community Coordinators need to be vaccinated first?
Community Coordinators will not have to leave their community to be vaccinated. Since they reside in the community, they are at the same risk level as other members. It will be up to the community Leadership when Community Coordinators receive the vaccine. Those entering communities from southern Ontario will be vaccinated ahead of time and they must wear PPE.
When will an educational awareness campaign be rolled out to communities?
The development of educational material is being prioritized by various partners and will also be translated into Cree, Oji-Cree and Ojibway. We are working to ensure information is provided to NAN community members in a variety of ways, including through Wawatay Radio. We will keep NAN Leadership informed as this important work progresses.
Should communities that are not on the priority list begin to prepare to receive the vaccine if remote communities choose not to?
All communities are encouraged to be prepared to receive the vaccine. Planning is currently underway for Phase 2 of the roll out. Community readiness will be considered, including readiness and willingness to accept the vaccine and infrastructure readiness.
Will members who reside off-reserve be vaccinated in their First Nation or in urban centers?
The Province continues to put plans together for the vaccine roll out for non-fly in First Nations and urban members. Generally, community members who reside off-reserve will receive the vaccine where they reside. Members who reside in their First Nation can get the vaccine in their community. Community members that are in urban areas when the vaccine rollout takes place would likely be prioritized under the Urban Indigenous Strategy.
Will there be more education provided to communities around the vaccine?
The plan is to get information to community members to achieve the goal of 70% of eligible community members receiving the vaccine. In order for this campaign to be effective, this is the minimum target. We are collaborating with our Health Authorities to keep NAN Leadership and membership informed on the development of this awareness campaign, as well as written materials and other forms of communication such as Wawatay radio shows.
If there are individuals in a community who choose not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and they travel by plane to another community, are they exposing people in the other community to COVID- 19?
Yes, if someone does not receive the vaccine, they risk bringing the virus to another community. The more people who receive the vaccine, the safer everyone is. That is why this vaccine roll out is so important.
For community members who choose not to receive the vaccine, will they be prohibited from entering stores or public places?
It has yet to be determined what post-vaccination will look like. Community leadership may, for example, determine that those who do not receive the vaccine may not be permitted into the community. Health officials have advised that all public health measures, including masking and social distancing, will remain in place for some time.
NAN COVID-19 Task Team – Mae Katt
- There are currently no active COVID-19 cases in SLFNHA communities.
- The positive case of COVID-19 in Kingfisher Lake First Nation announced on December 18, 2020, has since been resolved.
- On January 2, WAHA confirmed one positive case of COVID-19 in Fort Albany First Nation.
- The community quickly implemented a lockdown. To date, no further cases have been identified.
- A potential air exposure notification was issued for Air Creebec Flight #871 on December 28. The flight departed from Timmins at 9:11 a.m.
- There were five positive cases of COVID-19 in Moose Factory confirmed between December 20-22. All of these cases have been resolved.
COVID-19 Cases in Health Units Serving NAN Communities
- Ontario entered a province-wide lockdown on December 26, 2020.
- The provincial government announced on January 7, 2021 that it would be extending the lockdown in northern Ontario for an additional 2 weeks.
- As of January 6, there were 2,173 active cases among First Nations people in Manitoba, with 1,448 of those cases on-reserve.
- Sadly, 107 First Nations people have lost their lives to COVID-19 in Manitoba.
- This includes an Elder from Sandy Lake First Nation who passed away from COVID-19 in Winnipeg this past week. We send her families our condolences and keep them in our prayers.
- Although the overall number of active cases among First Nations people in Manitoba has declined since our last report, they are still being disproportionately affected by this virus.
- Nearly half of the active cases in Manitoba are among First Nations people.
- As of last week, NAN Hope has connected 230 clients to care.
- NAN Hope offers:
- 24/7 toll-free rapid access to confidential crisis services.
- Rapid access to clinical and mental health counselling.
- Navigators who provide connection to existing mental health and addictions support services in home communities and the region.
- This service is for all NAN members from youth to Elders, living on or off reserve.
- NAN Hope is not just a crisis line. The navigation and referral to ongoing care is an important part of the service and of helping those who use the service move forward with their healing journey.
- Traditional knowledge keepers and healers are now part of NAN Hope’s roster of counsellors.
- Clients can also be connected to counsellors who speak our languages.
- NAN Hope is also now involved with discharges from the Adolescent Unit at the Thunder Bay hospital.
- NAN Hope can be accessed through 1-844-NAN-HOPE (1-844-626-4673) and www.nanhope.ca
- NAN has posted specific information on the NAN website for members living off-reserve in urban centres across northwestern and northeastern Ontario.
- This includes how to find shelters, food banks, social and mental health services, as well as Indigenous organizations that can provide assistance.
- Please visit www.nancovid19.ca. It is updated daily with the most current information.
NEXT CALL: Thursday, January 14, 2021 | 1p.m. EST | 12p.m. CST