Message from Dr. Shelton

Message from Dr. Shelton

Dear Tribal Community,

I am so excited and grateful that we are anticipating the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccination for our community. This is a game-changer.

The vaccine will immunize those who get it. They will be far less likely to pass COVID-19 on others. It is a huge blessing. The state has our designated our community as high-risk – which means we will be able to get the vaccine quickly.

We anticipate the vaccine arriving toward the end of December. We do not know how much we will get, so we will vaccinate the high-risk Elders and health-care workers first. As the vaccine’s supplies increase, we hope to vaccinate ALL who desire protection. Please see our FAQ, which we will keep updated.

As a health-care worker, I expect to receive the vaccination along with councilmembers on video to encourage others to get the vaccination. The vaccine is very safe; after you get it you can expect soreness and flu-like symptoms a few days after. Note that if you have severe allergies and use an EpiPen, it is best for you to wait; talk with your health-care provider.

We chose to use Moderna’s vaccine instead of Pfizer’s due to supply chain and storage benefits. It also happens to be an easier vaccine to administer. Because we chose Moderna, we will get the vaccine a few weeks later than those communities that chose Pfizer’s vaccine.

Join me in getting vaccinated. Be part of the solution.

–Dr. Alan Shelton, Puyallup Tribe Medical Director

Vaccine questions and answers

There are two COVID-19 vaccines. Which is the Tribe using?
Tribal Council, on advice of Dr. Shelton, has chosen the Moderna vaccine. There is no significant difference between the Pfizer vaccine and the Moderna vaccine for their safety of use or their effectiveness in preventing COVID. And, practically speaking, the storage requirements of the Moderna vaccine are easily met with PTHA’s current capability.

When will the Tribe get the vaccine?
We will not know for certain, but we expect it in several weeks. We hope to begin providing vaccinations in early 2021.

How many doses will the Tribe get?
The state has prioritized our community. We expect there will be enough for anyone who wants to get it. We also know that we will be able to request doses each week. The vaccine requires two doses, 28 days apart.

Who will be eligible and first to get it?
The vaccine is for individuals over the age of 18. We expect over time to have enough doses for all who desire to be protected. Puyallup Tribal Members, eligible PTHA patients, Tribal first responders and other employees in critical positions will be offered vaccinations first. We hope to have enough to vaccinate other Administration employees at some point. Elders and staff at The House of Respect will be first.

I’m a Tribal employee. Is it mandatory?
No. Dr. Shelton hopes they will get vaccinations to protect themselves and protect others.

How quickly can the Tribe vaccinate people?
We are planning to set up a vaccination system where we can do several hundred vaccinations a day, and hopefully even more.

How do I make an appointment to get vaccinated?
Stay tuned. There will be announcements once the system is fully in place. The Elders Department is working closely with PTHA to coordinate.

Is it safe?
Dr. Shelton believes it is safe. That is why he is getting vaccinated and recommends all Elders get vaccinated.

What about side effects?
The research indicates 91 percent of vaccinated individuals experience side effects, but these are mild and include possible muscle soreness, fatigue, fever and flu symptoms. The likelihood and intensity of the side effects increase after the second required dose. This is good. It means the vaccination is developing the antibodies that will attack and kill the COVID virus if it enters your body.

Again, those with severe allergic reactions at the level of needing to carry an EpiPen should talk with their health-care provider before getting a vaccination.

The Elders Department staff will be monitoring all Elders who get the vaccination and will be ensuring Elders have the appropriate medications to manage uncomfortable side effects.

If you experience side effects beyond what is expected, please contact your primary care provider.

Where can I learn more?
Learn more online from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Reviewed by Dr. Alan Shelton, Medical Director of the Puyallup Tribe