As a delta variant-driven fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic continues, the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) is urging Indigenous people to get vaccinated.
“We’ve just seen a lot of misinformation being floated about, and we thought we might be able to add some voices to provide information and a judgment-free way,” said Jocelyn Formsma, NAFC executive director.
The association, which represents over 100 local friendship centres across Canada, launched the Take Action in COVID campaign. Social media posts provide education to dispel myths, demonstrate the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and to encourage urban Indigenous people to get the jab.
Formsma said although data collection is a challenge, vaccine uptake by Indigenous people living in urban, rural and northern communities is much lower than First Nations people living on-reserve and the general public.
“The delta variant spreads so much more quickly and the severity of illness is so much more, one of the best tools that we have, even though it’s an imperfect tool, is the vaccine,” she said.
“We’re just trying to make sure people have what they need and can make the best decision for themselves.“
Latest numbers in First Nations communities
The number of active cases of COVID-19 in First Nations communities continues to rise with the fourth wave of the pandemic.
There were 1,786 active cases of the virus in First Nations people in the provinces as of Oct. 5, according to the latest data from Indigenous Services Canada.
Since the pandemic began, there have been a total of 42,183 cases in First Nations communities. The total number of hospitalizations has increased to 1,924 and 430 First Nations people living on-reserve have died from the virus. There have been 39,967 recovered cases.
As of Sept. 28, the rate of reported active cases of COVID-19 in First Nations people living on-reserve is currently 415.1 per 100,000 or 3.5 times the rate in the general Canadian population.
Total cases in First Nations communities per region reported as of Oct. 5:
- British Columbia: 4,584
- Alberta: 12,174
- Saskatchewan: 11,477
- Manitoba: 9,625
- Ontario: 3,285
- Quebec: 979
- Atlantic: 59
As of Sept. 28, a total of 777,642 vaccine doses have been administered to individuals aged 12 and older in 687 First Nations, Inuit, and territorial communities, as well as 344,525 second doses.
WATCH Meadow Musqua, 17 dance outside a Regina hospital for her kokum, Lorna Standingready, who was diagnosed with COVID-19:
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- New or worsening cough.
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
- Temperature equal to or over 38 C.
- Feeling feverish.
- Fatigue or weakness.
- Muscle or body aches.
- New loss of smell or taste.
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting.
- Feeling very unwell.
If you think you might have COVID-19, please consult your local health department to book an appointment at a screening clinic.