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Navajo Nation surpasses vaccination goal

A sign reminds Navajo Nation residents how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The nation has passed its goal of 100,000 vaccinations by the end of February. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The Navajo Nation has a new goal of administering 120,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of February, after surpassing a previous goal of 100,000 doses by the month’s end.

In some cases, reservation health care workers are visiting homes to give shots to elderly and high-risk patients who can’t get to a vaccination site, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said.

“I know people want to get back to normal, people want businesses to be fully open, for the parks to be reopened,” Nez said in a video update Tuesday. “It will come.”

As of Sunday,the reservation had administered 116,611 total doses. Nearly 29,000 people have received both doses.

About 173,000 people live on the reservation, according to Census Bureau data.

The reservation has reported fewer than 100 new daily virus cases for nearly three weeks. The last time case numbers were this low was in October.

But business restrictions and a daily curfew remain in effect.

Capt. Brian Johnson, acting deputy director for the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, said residents and health care workers should be “flexible and patient” as vaccine clinic dates and times sometimes change.

The IHS receives vaccine shipments from various U.S. manufacturing sites.

“Some of that is shipped directly to our health care sites, and in some cases, it’s shipped to one central location and we end up delivering that around the Navajo Nation,” Johnson said. “Ideally, those shipments will arrive on Mondays, but in some cases, as it has been in the past couple of weeks, we’ve had weather delays.”

The Navajo Nation reported 15 new virus cases Monday and one death. A total of 1,145 in the Navajo Nation have died of the disease.

Jill Jim, director of the Navajo Department of Health, said reservation residents and visitors should continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.

“We have not identified any new (virus) variants here on the reservation, but they have been identified in Utah, New Mexico and Arizona,” Jim said.

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