Child immunizations against COVID-19 are critical to preserving our native cultures ” Alaska

During Native American Heritage Month, new resources are made available to improve health outcomes for Native American and Alaska Native youth

OKLAHOMA CITY, Nov. 22, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP), a national nonprofit dedicated to improving the health of Alaskan Indian and Native American communities, is working in a campaign with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) together to promote increased COVID-19 immunization rates among American Indians and Alaska Natives — with a focus on vaccines for children 6 months and older. November is Native American Heritage Month and improving health outcomes for Native Americans remains a top priority for the healthcare industry.

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AAIP member Dr. Joseph Bell (right), Lumbee, with patient and patient’s family member. (Photo: Business Wire)

“Protecting our communities includes protecting our children, who sometimes contract and spread viruses more than others because of their close proximity to their peers at daycare and school,” said AAIP executive director Tom Anderson. “Our hope is that all American Indians and Alaska Natives who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine — especially children — will be vaccinated and keep up with their booster shots and other seasonal vaccines. AAIP prides itself on standing with and serving Tribes, Physicians, Healers, Elders and our vast network of communities. Healthy tribal communities mean we can continue to pass on traditions to our next generations of leaders.”

AAIP directly addresses health disparities among Native populations. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Native Americans and Alaska Natives are the most vulnerable caregivers from the pandemic — 4.5 times higher than white children. The pandemic hit Native American communities hard. In the same study, the NIH found that 1 in 168 Native American/Alaskan Indian children was orphaned or died of a caregiver due to COVID-19.

AAIP doctors say these disparities make immunizations critical for Native youth who may become ill or spread the disease to vulnerable Native community members, such as teachers, caregivers and community elders.

“As the pandemic has evolved, so have our efforts to protect our communities. Childhood immunizations against the COVID-19 pandemic are safe, effective, and available to Native Americans and Alaska Natives, and they are a tool to preserve our cultures and keep friends and neighbors healthy,” said AAIP President Lukejohn Day, MD. ” Vaccination is a community effort with a colossal impact on the community.”

As COVID-19 and variant cases are expected to increase over the holidays and into the winter, AAIP is providing parents, caregivers, and physicians with online resources at aaipvax.org to increase awareness of and access to vaccines and booster shots to increase. The interactive website provides statistics, trending topics and safety information about COVID-19 vaccinations for children. Additionally, video resources were made available this month to make important and accurate information even more accessible.

AAIP encourages American Indians and Alaska Native parents and carers to contact their local Indian Health Services clinic, pharmacy or doctor to schedule COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots for themselves and their families.

About the Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP)

In 1971, fourteen Native American and Alaskan Native physicians endeavored to improve the overall health of their communities and the Association of American Indian Physicians was formed. Today, hundreds of licensed and practicing physicians across the country are dedicated to the same mission. AAIP strives for excellence in Native American health care by promoting health science education and honoring traditional healing principles. AAIP members directly address widely recognized inequalities in the health of Native Americans and Alaska Natives. For more information about the Association of American Indian Physicians, visit aaip.org. Visit aaipvax.org for immunization campaign resources.

Downloadable press kit available here.

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contacts

Katy Fabrie; 405-403-5423 or [email protected]

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