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Navajo Nation: 75% of residents fully vaccinated

A worker stands outside a completed COVID-19 shelter in the Kayenta, Ariz., region of the Navajo Nation. (Courtesy of Nilaya Sabnis)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The Navajo Area Indian Health Service and the Navajo Department of Health report that 99,254 people are fully vaccinated, equaling about 75% of the reservation’s vaccine-eligible population of residents older than 16.

Jill Jim, Navajo Department of Health director, encouraged caution, even as the reservation loosens health restrictions that have been in place for nearly a year.

“The magnitude of one event can put a lot of people at risk,” Jim said during a Tuesday video update.

She referenced a “cluster” event late last month on the reservation where 30 individuals who were at a gathering tested positive for COVID-19. Contact tracers tracked down about 100 people to determine the virus spread from the gathering.

The Navajo Nation has reported fewer than 15 new cases each day for the last week.

At the peak of the pandemic in late November, the reservation was reporting nearly 400 cases a day.

The reservation has reported 30,543 virus cases since the pandemic began.

More than 16,590 people have recovered from COVID-19 and 1,282 Navajo residents have died.

The COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to reach “community immunity” against the virus, said Capt. Brian Johnson, deputy director for the Navajo Area IHS.

“Whether we’re talking about the entire Navajo Nation, or about Shonto, or Chinle, or Fort Defiance, we look at the population of that community to see what percentage of individuals have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19,” Johnson said. “The more people vaccinated, the lower the risk for transmission of the disease.”

The reservation recently moved into its “yellow level” business restrictions.

Most Navajo Nation businesses may operate at 50% capacity and restaurants are open for indoor dining at 25% capacity. Navajo parks and casinos remain closed to tourists.

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