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With the beginning this week of vaccinations against COVID-19, many people are eager to find out when they may be vaccinated. The answer is complicated.

Factors include age, job description, health risk factors and production capacity of the vaccine. There is no precise timetable available.

The first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine for the Sault Tribe arrived Tuesday evening, Dec. 15, and consisted of 37 vials with a total of 185 doses. Because some of the vials had extra vaccine, there were extra doses.

As of Friday, Dec. 18, all of the initial doses have been used. The highest-priority tribal members were Health Division employees, but not all of the roughly 300 employees had requested a vaccination (No one is required to receive a vaccination).

Because of that, and because some vials had extra doses, 43 tribal elders were able to receive the first dose of the two-dose vaccine.

Dr. Leo Chugunov, the tribal health director, created a priority list to state when tribal members may receive the vaccine. Below is the order, with a brief explanation:

A. Health Division personnel.
B. Critical personnel of the Sault Tribe (non-Health Division). Critical workers are those who must be present at the workplace regardless of danger. That includes police officers and other emergency employees.
C. Sault Tribe elders.

A. Adults at high risk for development of severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions, and adults experiencing homelessness.
B. Essential workers with direct interaction with the public or in high-density workplaces.

3. Essential workers without direct interaction with the public. This includes team members who are considered essential but are able to work from home.

4. Adults without high-risk conditions.

Depending on production and other factors, Sault Tribe members who aren’t considered critical or essential workers, who don’t have underlying medical conditions, and who are not tribal elders might have to wait weeks or even months to receive the vaccine.

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Photo by Ken Bosma / CC BY