COVID-19 vaccination teams travel to village of Nulato

Published: Mar. 2, 2021 at 5:02 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska is still leading the country in vaccination per capita. So far, more than 105,000 Alaskans — just under 15% of the state’s population — has been fully vaccinated.

A big part of this success is thanks to the vaccination teams that are traveling to villages around the state. In Southwest Alaska, communities like Nulato are trying to prevent history from repeating itself.

“Imagine losing 60% of your population overnight, with growing up with no medicine on 1918. And losing whole family’s entire families to a pandemic is traumatic. You can’t measure that,” said Chief PJ Simon with the Tanana Chiefs Conference.

The 1918 Spanish flu devastated the state, killing nearly 3,000 people in a span of two years. It was the most per capita, according to vital statistics reports.

The coronavirus pandemic is now triggering memories of the past.

“It’s so scary that you know, people were when it first came out, people were scared to see their own family. They’re scared, I was scared to see my son. We live 60 miles away. So when it first started, people were so unsure,” said Tim Mcmanus, the first chief of Nenana.

But there is hope on the way as health teams continue to travel across the state delivering coronavirus vaccines. So far, people in Nulato are embracing the vaccine.

“This virus is a killer and I don’t want to get it,” one resident said.

“I feel safe from COVID-19 now,” a young man said after getting his vaccine.

Leaders said it’s been team effort to convince the community to trust the vaccines.

“Having a good ground game, having positive communication, talking, getting the elders to talk to the youth about buying into the vaccination, there’s a lot of unknowns,” Simon said. “Knowing that this was developed by some of the world’s smartest people, gave the tribes assurance that it’s safe in it, it’s going to protect us.”

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