Tribal health programs and urban Indian organizations choose how they will access the COVID-19 vaccine

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Once available, COVID-19 vaccines will be allocated to jurisdictions, including the Indian Health Service

News Release

Indian Health Services

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is laying the necessary groundwork for the distribution of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine by ensuring that all tribal health programs and urban Indian organizations have the choice on how they receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Today, the Department of Health and Human Services is announcing that all tribal health programs and urban Indian organizations have chosen their preferred method for receiving the vaccine.

Tribal health programs and urban Indian organizations had the option of receiving the vaccine either through the Indian Health Service or their respective state. Once available, COVID-19 vaccines will be allocated to jurisdictions, including the Indian Health Service (IHS), who will then distribute to tribal health programs and urban Indian organizations.

“By offering Indian health providers a choice in how COVID-19 vaccines are delivered, the Trump Administration will ensure that vaccines are effectively delivered throughout Indian Country in ways that make sense for tribal communities,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “Tribal nations have been a key part of our planning for the vaccine rollout so that American Indians and Alaska Natives will have equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they become available.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - PDF, along with Indian Health Service, states, and tribes, are coordinating the distribution of a vaccine for federal sites, tribal health programs, and urban Indian organizations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed standard data requirements that all health care facilities must meet for COVID-19 vaccine administration, inventory, and monitoring.

“At the Indian Health Service, we are planning and preparing for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, allocation, and implementation,” said Indian Health Service Director Rear Admiral Michael D. Weahkee. “The success of a COVID-19 vaccine program for tribes and urban Indian communities depends on the strong partnership between the federal government, tribes, and urban leaders. There are system wide planning efforts in place to make sure we’re ready to implement vaccination activities as soon as a Food and Drug Administration authorized or approved vaccine is available.”

The Indian Health Service recently released the Indian Health Service COVID-19 Pandemic Vaccine Plan November 2020 - PDF, which details how the Indian Health Service health care system will prepare for and operationalize a vaccine when it becomes available. It also provides important guidance for all tribal health programs and urban Indian organizations that choose to receive a COVID-19 vaccine coordinated through Indian Health Service as well as guidance for Indian Health Service federal sites.

The Indian Health Service developed the plan based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Vaccination Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations, while recognizing the sovereign authority of tribal nations to provide for the welfare of their people.

The list of Indian Health Service, tribal health program, and urban Indian organization facilities that will receive the COVID-19 vaccine from the Indian Health Service, broken down by Indian Health Service Area, is available on the Indian Health Service coronavirus website.

To better understand the needs of American Indian and Alaska Native communities prior to publication of the Indian Health Service COVID-19 Pandemic Vaccine Plan, the Department of Health and Human Services initiated tribal consultation in September to seek input from tribal leaders on COVID-19 vaccination planning for Indian Country. The Indian Health Service also initiated tribal consultation - PDF and urban confer - PDF in October to seek input from tribal and urban leaders on the plan.

The Indian Health Service developed the plan based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Vaccination Interim Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations - PDF, while recognizing the sovereign authority of tribal nations to provide for the welfare of their people.

The list of Indian Health Service, tribal health program, and urban Indian organization facilities that will receive the COVID-19 vaccine from the Indian Health Service, broken down by Indian Health Service Area, is available on the Indian Health Service coronavirus website - PDF.

About the Indian Health Service

The Indian Health Service, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a comprehensive health service delivery system for approximately 2.6 million American Indians and Alaska Natives who belong to 574 federally recognized tribes in 37 states. Follow the agency via social media on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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