CH’ÍHOOTSOOÍ, DINÉTAH (Window Rock, Navajo Nation) (October 2, 2021) – Yee Ha’ólníi Doo d/b/a Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund has implemented a vaccination campaign aimed at increasing vaccination numbers on the Navajo Nation and safeguarding our communities against further increases in Delta variant cases.
Yee Ha’ólníi Doo has launched an intensive effort to increase public health education in our communities, as research has shown that vaccinated individuals are still able to carry and pass on the coronavirus. Campaign team volunteers are currently providing virtual outreach of public health education throughout various regions of the Navajo Nation to encourage more community members to get vaccinated.
The comprehensive campaign initially started by promoting vaccination education in popular community spaces like local flea markets. Due to the surge in COVID cases on the Navajo Nation in August, and the high transmissibility of the Delta variant, all in-person outreach efforts of the campaign had been redirected to take place virtually.
Fully vaccinated participants in the outreach program have a chance to win vaccination incentives like t-shirts, bumper stickers, $25 gift cards and bracelets.
Unvaccinated participants have a chance to earn a $50 gift card if they get vaccinated within two weeks of participating in the outreach program.
This grassroots vaccination campaign was made possible through a generous $100,000 grant from Made To Save, a national grassroots organization working to ensure that communities hit hardest by the pandemic have access to COVID vaccines and related information.
From this collaboration, valuable educational material was developed to address the needs of the Navajo community. For example, an educational one-pager was developed that breaks down the highly complex concepts surrounding the Delta variant and the benefits of vaccinating into easily understandable concepts directly relevant to the Navajo people.
Public Health Education Program Manager Wendy Atcitty said, “These one-pagers use a storytelling approach. You can see drawings of our Diné people wearing masks or going to see a nurse. It gives that sense of community while reinforcing the message that we need to take care of ourselves and each other.”
Educating the community with reliable information is essential to increasing vaccinations on the Navajo Nation. The campaign’s community oriented strategy reinforces an essential message: As Indigenous peoples, we hold a shared responsibility to protect our elders who safeguard our traditional wisdom and our younger generations who will carry our community forward.
“We need to remember to see ourselves bonded through our clans, whether we connect virtually or in-person. We are all connected through the kinship that we carry. We’re taking care of our relatives through this campaign,” said Atcitty.
Whether you’re vaccinated or not, you are able to participate in this public health education campaign. Please use the following link to submit an online request form to participate: bit.ly/protectcommunity.
The campaign also highlights reasons why members of the Navajo community have chosen to vaccinate by publishing influencer testimonials in local newspapers and on social media. Most recently the campaign hosted a live radio forum on KNDN featuring healthcare professionals working in Navajo facilities who shared information regarding COVID and vaccines, and took questions from the public.
Implemented in tandem with the vaccination campaign, the Relief Fund has strengthened its employment policies to require that all staff members provide proof of vaccination. This requirement, along with standard social distancing and sanitation protocols, helps ensure that our staff remain safe and protected while performing their duties.
“Getting vaccinated protects us all from severe infection and reduces the likelihood of being hospitalized due to viral infection,” said Yee Ha’ólníi Doo Interim Executive Director Ethel Branch. “Let’s protect ourselves, our elders, and our children for whom the vaccine is not yet available. Let’s protect our communities.”
“Since time immemorial, our people have been caretakers. We are continuing this protection, especially now for all our people,” Atcitty said. “I remember the day when I received the first dose of the vaccine, I saw it as a blessing and I was honored to protect everyone around me.”