Seattle Indian Health Board first to receive Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

The Seattle Indian Health Board received 500 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. The shipment wasn’t expected until Dec. 28.

“It felt like hope; it felt like a relief,” said Esther Lucero, CEO of Seattle Indian Health Board. Lucero shared a photo with the words, “For the love of Native people,” written under her Band-Aid.

Lucero was the first to get vaccinated. She felt it was important to show the Native community it is safe.

“There’s definitely some uncertainty, right, these types of programs and systems have been used to fuel atrocities on our communities historically, and so folks want to know that this is safe, and they want to know our folks are going to be cared for,” said Lucero.

The Seattle Indian Health Board cares for Native people in Seattle and works in conjunction with the Chief Seattle Club to care for the homeless Native population.

The arrival of the vaccine was a relief to the director of the Chief Seattle Club, Colleen Echohawk, who had a virtual meeting with employees today.

“It felt good talking to them, telling them you are going to be prioritized this time, as we know you are interacting with our community who have COVID, and we want to protect you,” said Echohawk.

Last May, when the Seattle Indian Health Board asked the federal, state, and local governments for personal protective equipment to protect against COVID-19, it was shocked when its staff opened the box and saw, instead, body bags. It is still unclear how that happened. But now after months of advocacy and fighting for care,the organization is first, and it states it is about time.

Lucero also wonders whether the organization would have been prioritized if that incident didn’t occur. “Sometimes, you have to leverage those negative experiences, those racist experiences, to be able to support our people,” she added.

The Seattle Indian Health Board received 500 doses of the Moderna vaccine and put in an order for 1,000 more doses.

More shipments of Moderna’s vaccine are expected to arrive in the state on Wednesday.