TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KFOR) – Cherokee Nation officials announced they reached a milestone in vaccinating their government employees against COVID-19.
Cherokee Nation Health Services has vaccinated over 65,200 vaccines since December 2020, fully vaccinating 70 percent of the Tribe’s government employees, according to Cherokee Nation officials.
“The 70 percent active employee vaccination achievement means we have a better chance at protecting our Cherokee Nation citizens,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “It remains the Cherokee Nation’s goal to vaccinate as many people as possible across the reservation, especially as we see growing concerns about new variants and the accompanying increase in positive cases and hospitalizations. We will adjust our approach according to CDC recommendations and advice of our medical experts as we continue to rely on science, facts and compassion. Meanwhile, we ask everyone to act responsibility for themselves and their neighbors. I’m proud of the efforts of our Cherokee Nation employees for taking steps to ensure the safety of the people they serve as well as themselves.”
Cherokee Nation Health Services employees and Cherokee first-language speakers were given priority to the vaccine when the vaccines first became available to the tribe.
The Cherokee Nation gave their employees paid administrative leave to receive the vaccine.
Hoskins signed an executive order that encouraged over 4,200 government employees to receive the vaccine. The order, which went into effect on May 25, provided $300 incentives to get vaccinated.
But the fight against COVID-19 is not over, said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner.
“Although we’ve vaccinated 70 percent of our employees, we haven’t won the race yet,” Warner said. “But I do believe the Cherokee Nation is on the right track. I appreciate all of our employees for being an example and doing what needs to be done to keep our tribal services operating and citizens protected.”