Beginning of the End of Pandemic

Hope Springs Eternal in the Minds of Many After Vaccines for COVID-19 Arrive and are  administered at Elbowoods Memorial Health Center 

By Logan J. Davis

New Town – A historical event took place last week that officials are hopeful is a major step towards stopping the pandemic that has claimed so many lives across every state and tribe in the nation. Vaccinations for the COVID-19 virus took place at the Elbowoods Health Care Center in New Town with much anticipation and excitement. 

Ten individuals were given their first dose of the Moderna vaccine under the watchful eyes of medical staff and none experienced any negative reactions to it except for a minor soreness at the injection site later that day. Those same ten health care workers will be administered a required second dose in 28 days from the time they got the first one. First in line to take the vaccine was Dr. Anita Martin who is the Chief Medical Officer for the Elbowoods Health Care Center. Following Dr. Martin in the line of health care workers was Marilyn Yellowbird, Director of Public Health, and then eight remaining health care frontline workers took their turn. After the shots were given, each of the ten recipients moved into an observation area where they were monitored for twenty minutes for any adverse reactions. There were no reactions experienced after that time so all ten went back to work to attend to their patients. Dr. Martin said she had no qualms about taking the vaccine and that people really need to follow the CDC guidelines and recommendations. The Moderna vaccine has undergone long and intense trials that have deemed it safe with little or no side effects. 

“The CDC has also come up with the tiers that most states will follow in the long-term process in the administration of the vaccinations. The second tier will be for the elderly and persons with underlying health conditions and the third tier will be the general population where everyone can get the vaccine. The federal government is paying for the vaccines and all of the needles, syringes and all of the equipment for this,” explained Dr. Martin. “It’s important to be aware that just because you have been vaccinated, you still need to keep wearing a mask and wash or disinfect your hands constantly. The vaccine will protect you but the CDC is not quite certain how long exactly it will keep you immune. We are hoping it will be an annual vaccine like the regular flu.”

The majority of the world’s population getting the vaccine is what will bring the pandemic to an end but it will take some time before life will be back to normal. At least 70% of the nation’s population have to receive the vaccination in order for the pandemic to end, Dr. Martin noted. 

Elbowoods Memorial Health Care Center CEO Dr. Kathy Eagle-Williams said she considers it a blessing that the vaccinations at the local facility have begun. The ones who were vaccinated are part of the first phase that will provide the Moderna vaccine to nurses, doctors, EMS staff, law enforcement and other front line health care workers. Eagle stated that the vaccines will be offered to the health care workers in each of the segment health clinics this week. She emphasized that people should not be fearful of the vaccine based on what they see or hear on the internet. The CDC and health experts all encourage people to be vaccinated, especially frontline workers, elderly and those with chronic health conditions. 

It is recommended that the two doses come from the same company.  The vaccine received by the Elbowoods health care workers is one of three similar kinds from three different pharmaceutical companies that have been developed this year. Moderna and Pfizer have their vaccines approved and a third vaccine from Astra-Zeneca is expected to be approved this week. The COVID-19 virus has taken the lives of over 330,000 people in the United States in recent data. The CDC advises that all must be vigilant and take steps daily to stop the spread of the virus. This holiday season saw many people travel and take part in gatherings despite warnings so it is likely that there will be a post-holiday surge all across the U.S. On Sunday December 27th, new data showed there were 1,317,150 new cases in the prior seven (7) days. There are now nearly 19 million total cases in the U.S. North Dakota was once the highest in the nation in terms of average daily cases for every 100,000 people but since mask mandates was put in place the state cases have now dropped from the very highest amount of cases per capita to closer to the least cases per capita proving the effectiveness of wearing a mask. It’s important to be aware that Native American communities have been hit hard by the virus and indigenous tribal members are 4 times more likely to be hospitalized from the COVID-19 virus. MHA Nation tribal leaders knew masks were a way to stop the spread of the virus and had initially passed a law for a mask mandate on the Fort Berthold Reservation long before the State’s Governor elected to follow suit. 

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is highly contagious and in that regard, it is important to follow CDC guidelines to protect yourself, your family and community. Avoid crowds, wear a washable mask that covers your mouth and nose, wash your hands often and stay at least six feet apart.