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Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition works to increase vaccine accessibility

Published: Apr. 11, 2021 at 11:25 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition is working to bring vaccines to those who have been underserved throughout this pandemic.

After a quick prick in her arm, Tamara Left Hand Bull is just two weeks away from being fully protected from COVID-19.

She’s looking forward “to [getting] around and be around other people. Socialize again.”

She and approximately 120 others came for either their first or second dose of the COVID vaccine at the NUIHC campus at 24th and Landon Ct. with the help of NOAH, North Omaha Area Health.

“We’re able to reach people, that would not be reached by other places,” Mark Darby, the clinic director at NOAH said. “Though, more importantly, every person we vaccinate today makes the whole community safer. Because we’re all - that’s one thing this has told us, the pandemic, that we’re all interconnected.”

They’re hosting the clinic here for a number of reasons, it’s a place that is trusted and its location.

“Access has been confused with hesitancy, it’s not. There’s...we have no...we work with a number of different groups and the hesitancy among underserved populations is no more than any other group. Access is a big issue,” Darby said.

At this weekend’s clinic, that was a big focus. Dr. Donna Polk knew the Native American population and others needed to have more access to life-saving vaccines.

According to CDC, Native Americans are the most vulnerable and have really had the highest incidence of death from COVID-19,” Dr. Polk, CEO of NUIHC said.

This is why she’s committed to doing everything possible to get them in, including providing transportation and a $25 incentive for those getting shot.

“We received COVID money and we’re kind of giving back to the community,” Dr. Polk explained.

For people like Randall Springer, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 last summer, he’s one step closer to being protected.

“It’s just new, the shots are new. I mean, they don’t know what the after-effects of these are, you know maybe like a year from now. Who knows, we’ll see. But I know I’m vaccinated now and I feel good about that,” Springer said.

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