Health

Two Osage Nation officials are the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at WHC

Photo caption: Osage nurse Marie Rumsey, RN, administers the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to ON Congressional Speaker Angela Pratt, the first Osage to receive the vaccination to the COVID-19 virus at the Wahzhazhe Health Center on Dec. 16, 2020. CODY HAMMER/Osage News

Two Osage Nation officials are the first Osage citizens to receive the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine injection shortly after its delivery arrival at the Wah-Zha-Zhe Health Center in Pawhuska on Dec. 16.

That afternoon, ON Congressional Speaker Angela Pratt opted to be the first patient to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine inoculation administered by Osage nurse Marie Rumsey, RN. Afterward, Dr. Ron Shaw, the CEO and Chief Medical Officer for the WHC, also received his vaccination.

While wearing facial masks, officials and employees for the WHC and Pratt gathered for the brief history-making occasion under the outdoor tent set up next to the clinic for patient vaccinations and COVID-19 testing. Clinic and ON Tribal Works officials set up the tent on Dec. 10 in preparation for the vaccination’s arrival and to continue ongoing testing opportunities available to WHC patients and ON government employees.

At approximately 2:45 p.m., Shaw welcomed the small scattered number of individuals present and acknowledged Pratt for volunteering to be the first recipient of the vaccine injection. The brief occasion was also live-streamed on social media for about seven minutes for Pratt and Shaw’s vaccinations.

“She’s willing to take (that vaccine) to protect her family and other people she sees and the same thing with me. We all want to stay on the job and do what we can for Osages up here, so here we are, we have the vaccines, we’re getting ready to do the first shots,” Shaw said then added he appreciated all the WHC’s work efforts throughout the pandemic. Shaw then offered a brief prayer then Pratt took her place seated in a chair while Rumsey prepared the vaccine shot.

Rumsey injected the vaccine dose into Pratt’s upper left arm. Afterward, Pratt left the seat and clinic staff applauded the moment with one exclaiming “good job, good job!”

Vaccinations will be administered in three phases. The first phase will go to healthcare workers, critical essential employees (non-healthcare), elders over the age of 65, and high-risk patients with co-morbidities such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and others. The WHC will focus on its patients first and will follow Indian Health Service guidelines.

After the vaccination, Pratt also praised the healthcare workers and encouraged all to continue to exercise precautions to curtail the COVID-19 spread. As of Dec. 17, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported the tally of reported COVID-19 cases stands at 248,204 and there are a reported 2,144 total deaths since the pandemic reached Oklahoma in March 2020.

“Help is on the way! I am so grateful for the healthcare workers and scientists who have been the soldiers in this battle for our health and way of life,” Pratt said on social media. “Vaccines will continue to roll in! Please prepare. In particular, I ask those who have chosen to not wear masks, social distance and other things to help slow the spread, because ‘we should not live in fear,’ to use the same logic and take the vaccine. Because to me, this isn’t even about living in fear or not, it’s simply the act of Patriotism and doing our part, just as we would in any other attack on American lives and way of life.”