WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (ABC4) – The COVID-19 death toll in the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American tribe in the United States, is now hitting over 1,500 deaths. New numbers released by the Navajo Department of Health and other agencies report 65 new cases and six new deaths related to COVID-19. The total death count is 1,513 deaths.
On Saturday, the state of Arizona reported 3,985 new cases while Utah and New Mexico will report their weekend case numbers on Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 data tracker shows that between the period of December 2020 and November 2021, 59.8% of Native Americans and Alaska Natives had at least one dose of the COVID vaccines and 50.6% percent were fully vaccinated. They were the group with the highest percentage of vaccinations in the country.
However, a September report from the National Indian Council on Aging said that a vaccine poll conducted by the African American Research Collaborative and the Commonwealth Fund, a private organization that supports independent research on healthcare issues, found that 43% of Native Americans who weren’t vaccinated do not plan on getting vaccinated.
The hesitancy of those who are unvaccinated stems in part from access to the vaccines. The motivator for not getting vaccinated was a lack of transportation to the location of their choice for vaccination. The poll found that 47.4% percent of unvaccinated Native Americans said they would prefer to be vaccinated at their doctor’s office, 24% would get vaccinated at a hospital, and 13.1% would get vaccinated at a community health clinic.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez visited the Indian Health Service COVID-19 vaccination sites in Pinehill and Gallup, N.M., on Saturday to show support and gratitude for health care workers and families receiving the vaccines.
“Thank you to all of the health care workers and many others who are working through the weekend to administer vaccines and booster shots,” Nez said. “The numbers of new cases are high, but areas off the Navajo Nation are even higher and the risks are greater because many cities do not have COVID-19 protocols in effect.”
Nez also said even though public health experts provided guidance and resources to help the community, it is up to the people themselves to practice those measures.
Health care facilities across the Navajo Nation continue to administer COVID-19 vaccines. Residents who would like to get vaccinated should schedule an appointment with their health care provider. For more information on prevention tips and other COVID-19 resources, visit the Navajo Department of Health’s COVID-19 website here. For COVID-19 related questions and information, call (928) 871-7014.