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Cherokee Nation to offer additional dose of COVID-19 vaccine for those with weakened immune systems

Friday, August 20, 2021 - The Cherokee Nation is following recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to administer an additional dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to fully vaccinated patients who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.

Cherokee Nation Health Services will use the same vaccine as the patient’s primary dose for the additional dose, and it will be given at least 28 days after the initial two doses of the vaccine. Cherokee Nation Health Services will begin offering the additional doses to qualifying patients on Thursday, August 19.

“It’s proven that people who have a weakened immune system are especially vulnerable to the virus because they are more at risk of serious and prolonged illness,” said Cherokee Nation Health Services Executive Medical Director Dr. Roger Montgomery. “The rise in cases of the very contagious Delta variant makes it even more important for this group to ensure they have enough protection against COVID-19.”

According to the CDC, patients who should receive an additional dose of the vaccine include those who have been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood; those who received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system; those who received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system; those who have a moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome; those who have advanced or untreated HIV infection; and those who receive active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress their immune response.

For those receiving immunosuppressive therapy or treatment, the additional dose will be given two weeks prior to the treatment.

Patients with common conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, high blood pressure and COPD are not considered immunocompromised and should not request an additional dose of the vaccine at this time. Patients should contact their medical provider to ask about whether they need an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Vaccination is still the best form of protection against the COVID-19 virus and the new Delta variant. Our health system is overwhelmed by the number of cases and hospitalizations and the majority of those cases are individuals who are unvaccinated,” said Cherokee Nation Health Services Executive Director Dr. R. Stephen Jones. “This means that our capacity to care for patients with anything other than COVID-19 is lacking or non-existent. If we want to end this pandemic and all the restrictions that come along with it, we all must do our part.”

Immunocompromised individuals who receive an additional dose of vaccine should continue to follow preventive measures such as wearing a mask, practicing social distancing with others they do not live with, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces. Close contacts of immunocompromised individuals should be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Any member of the public, regardless of tribal citizenship or residency, is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine from the Cherokee Nation. Walk-ins are welcome at any of the tribe’s outpatient health centers from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, excluding holidays.

Appointments can also be scheduled by calling 1-539-234-4099.

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