AKWESASNE — Rollout of the Moderna vaccine has arrived at the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe earlier than expected. The Tribe recently received an initial shipment of 200 doses from the Indian Health Organization, officials said.
The vaccine requires two separate shots — the first being a primer distribution and the second, a booster, 28 days later, Tribe Director of Communications Brendan White said Monday.
Moderna is easier to store, White added, in contrast to the Pfizer vaccine, which needs to be maintained in extreme cold. Patients who are administered Moderna’s follow-up booster should “receive their 90% effective rate,” he said.
Because of the vaccine’s early arrival, the Tribe has moved its vaccination scheduling up one week. The first group — frontline, health care and police department workers — can receive their booster shots as early as later this week or early next week, White said.
Once these essential employees are vaccinated, the Tribe will turn its priority to the territory’s elders, White said.
The Tribe late last month administered its first two Moderna vaccinations to Dr. Benson Kelly and Tribe Director of Health Services Michael Cook.
“It feels just like a flu shot or tetanus shot — same type of thing,” Kelly told Akwesasne TV on Dec. 29. “I have no ill feelings whatsoever.”
Kelly said the prime shot is to initially simulate the patient’s immune system, in order to respond to COVID-19. The statistics, Kelly said, show about a 50% immunity in a patient 10 days after receiving the initial shot.
The booster, Kelly said, brings the vaccine’s efficiency to about 90%, following 10 days from administration.
“We chose to work through the federal government — via the Indian Health Service — to receive our vaccines versus New York state,” Cook told Akwesasne TV. “The initial allocation was minimal — they (divided) out 200 doses to most of the Tribes in the area.”
Cook estimated last month that the entire Tribe could have access to the Moderna vaccine around May.