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Sat May 7, 2022, 05:03 PM

Tribes credited with elevating vaccinations in rural Arizona

Mary Francis had no qualms about being a poster child for COVID-19 vaccinations on the Navajo Nation, once a virus hot spot. The Navajo woman's face and words grace a digital flyer asking people on the Native American reservation to get vaccinated "to protect the shidine'e (my people)."

I was happy to put the information out there and just building that awareness and in having folks feel comfortable enough, or curious enough, to read the material, said Francis, who lives in Page, near the Utah border, and manages care packages and vaccine drives for a Navajo and Hopi relief fund.

In a pandemic that has seen sharp divides between urban and rural vaccination rates nationwide, Arizona is the only state where rural vaccine rates outpaced more populated counties, according to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public health experts believe the trend was mainly fueled by a group that lost a disproportionate number of lives to COVID-19: Native Americans.

Tribal communities were left more vulnerable to the virus because of underlying health issues like diabetes and heart disease, as well as multiple generations sharing a home. Cases and deaths piled on despite curfews, weekend lockdowns, mask mandates and business shutdowns. By April 2020, the Navajo Nation which encompasses parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah declared it had been hit harder by the coronavirus than any other tribe.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/ap-navajo-nation-navajo-covid-utah-b2073819.html?utm_content=Echobox&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=Main&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1651947603

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