Shekoli, Greetings to the Oneida Community:
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause tremendous human suffering throughout the world and is also impacting our Oneida community. It has been 308 days since the Oneida Nation declared a state of Public Health Emergency on March 12,2020.
We have made significant progress in dealing with this pandemic over the past 10 months. We would like to thank each one of you for your diligence in following safety recommendations by staying home unless essential, following the masking/face covering mandate and avoiding gatherings outside of your own household. We have celebrated holidays in a safe manner and have been able to keep our COVID-19 cases down.
We now have a new tool in our toolbox to control this pandemic. Two COVID-19 vaccines were approved by the FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization. Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for individuals 16 years and older is given in 2 doses 3 weeks apart. Moderna vaccine for individuals 18 years and older which is given in 2 doses 4 weeks apart. These are safe and effective vaccines in preventing COVID-19 illness in individuals who receive them. Their effectiveness in preventing the spread of the virus is being studied and not fully known at this time. It will therefore be very important for us to not let our guard down as we try to put this pandemic behind us. It is critical that we continue with our current safety precautions of masking/face covering, physical distancing, frequent hand hygiene, disinfecting frequent touched areas, and avoiding gatherings until we get to a point when these precautions may not be needed any more.
We believe that every individual is a priority for vaccination and that every worker is essential to the community and their work is important. However, with the supply of vaccine expected to be limited initially, we will follow a strategic framework that is most impactful in dealing with this pandemic effectively.
COVID-19 vaccination in WI will occur in a phased approach. We are currently vaccinating persons identified by WI public health in Phase 1a. This includes residents in long term care facilities and healthcare personnel. Because transitions from phase to phase will overlap, we are already preparing to vaccinate for the next phase; Phase 1b. We are currently awaiting additional information from the state of Wisconsin regarding the next phase of vaccination. We anticipate the next group will likely include persons 75 years and older and designated non-healthcare frontline workers of critical infrastructure such as public safety and education.
As we learn more, updates will be provided to the community through our social media pages, through Facebook Live and through FAQs offered to the community as we receive additional information. At this time, we do not have any timelines as it is based upon vaccine availability and the guidance of how to roll out the vaccine in phases. At this time we are working on a plan to provide to the Oneida community that will explain how we will move forward in contacting individuals for their vaccine when it is ready.
Everyone that wants a COVID-19 vaccine will eventually get one. A vaccination distribution on this enormous level, worldwide, will take some time. In the meantime, it is critical we continue to practice COVID-19 safety measures as we have for the past several months; wear a mask, physically distancing, frequent hand hygiene, disinfecting frequent touched areas, and avoiding gatherings. This has been a very difficult time for our community, our nation and the whole world. We will get thru this together by supporting each other with A Good Mind, A Good Heart and A Strong Fire. Our Oneida community is strong and resilient. We appreciate your support and kindness you have shown to us and to each other. Wishing you Good Health in the New Year” Hoyan”
Ravi Vir, MD, MBA, FACP
Oneida Comprehensive Health Division Medical Director
Debra J. Danforth, BSN, RN
Divisions Director – Operations Comprehensive Health Division