“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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April 15, 2021

Arizona National Guard Lends a Hand at COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics

By Dodie Manuel

If you recently received a COVID-19 vaccine, you might have noticed a few extra hands helping out at the last few vaccination clinics. Due to the high volume of Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members, employees and family members who were eligible to get the Moderna vaccine, the SRPMIC Emergency Management COVID-19 Command Team reached out to the Arizona National Guard to help maintain the level of vaccinators for the remaining vaccination clinics within the Community. 

“[T]ribal Health and Human Services was at the tip of the spear as nurses, providers, pharmacists and others who could [administer] shots were added to staffing rosters to support [our vaccination] operations. Others outside of HHS included Salt River Fire Department staff such as paramedics, who were also integrated into the vaccination staffing plan,” said SRPMIC Emergency Management Coordinator Terry Nelson. “[L]ocating trained vaccinators within the Community employee base is a difficult task. The National Guard [played] an integral [role in ensuring] success …for mass vaccination through the use of [added] vaccinators.”

The Arizona Department of Health Services coordinates efforts in the state to support jurisdictions that need services in a public health emergency. The National Guard has trained medical units to assist communities in emergency situations, including mass vaccinations. 

“SRPMIC Emergency Management worked with our state partners at the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs by submitting a resource request to obtain these resources to meet our mass vaccination efforts,” said Nelson. 

The National Guard members serve as vaccinators and support personnel in all areas throughout the Point of Dispensing (POD) vaccination operations. They also help greet patients, help with traffic control and observe patients for side effects after vaccinations. 

“The National Guard members have been involved with other jurisdictions performing similar work in PODs throughout the state and had subject-matter expertise on large-scale event management of PODs. This lent a hand to the planning teams who learned about a concept which was new to the Community,” said Nelson. 

The National Guard will continue to help local jurisdictions, tribal communities and the SRPMIC with vaccination operations until the end of April. 

“The National Guard is excellent to work with, as they already have a structure in place which supports command and coordination, which made for an easy transition into the SRPMIC POD Command Team system,” said Nelson. 

To get your COVID-19 vaccine at an upcoming scheduled clinic, call (480) 362-2603 and leave your name and phone number so a SRPMIC staff member can call you back to schedule your appointment.