Submitted by Dr. Gary Girard
LCO Community Health Center Director
Letter to IHS Team Members:
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and it is important that we remain vigilant in our efforts to reduce illness and complications from this disease, especially in light of the circulating variants becoming more transmissible. As you may know, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designated Delta as a variant of concern. The Delta variant may carry a risk of more severe illness and transmissibility. Unvaccinated individuals or those that have not yet completed the two dose vaccination series are at the highest risk. As we continue to learn more about variants, we know COVID-19 vaccination is critical in reducing severe disease and transmission of COVID-19. If you have COVID-19 vaccination questions, I encourage you to visit the CDC Frequently Asked Questions.
In support of the COVID-19 Vaccine National Month of Action, I wanted to highlight activities that are happening across the health care system.
IHS-operated facilities continue to integrate COVID-19 vaccination in routine care and operations.
Here are a few examples of ways facilities are offering vaccinations:
At every clinic visit, staff offer a vaccine to every patient who has not received a vaccine. Patients are encouraged to discuss questions or hesitations with a provider, nurse, or pharmacist.
Integrating COVID-19 vaccine screening into routine care and offering targeted, frequent vaccination clinics. Patient registration staff conducting outreach such as calling patients and mailing letters.
Additionally, IHS Areas report offering vaccinations at some of the following places:
Community events, i.e., sporting or ceremonial events, pow wows, hand game tournaments, etc.
Community centers, i.e., elder, youth, or homeless centers; testing sites; etc.
Casinos, i.e., offering on-site, using a marquee to announce where to get a vaccine, etc.
Markets where people shop
Mobile clinics in tribal housing neighborhoods or other central community locations, etc.
Schools, i.e., for summer students, Back to School events, etc.
This list is not extensive but may spark a few ideas. We know word of mouth is a powerful tool. If you received a COVID-19 vaccine, I encourage you to share your story.
Vaccination Incentives offered by IHS-operated facilities
We are pleased that IHS-operated facilities have the ability to offer vaccination incentives during the COVID-19 public health emergency. IHS-operated facilities are encouraged to work with the appropriate Area points of contact (i.e. Area Vaccine Points of Contact, Executive Officers, Financial Management Officers, Area Public Affairs Liaison, etc.) to discuss offering vaccine incentives. Some incentive ideas that may be appropriate for IHS-operated facilities include a nominal value gift cards for food or a local grocery store, t-shirts, water bottles, or merchandise promoting vaccination. These are suggestions and may not apply to your local situation. If you have vaccination incentive ideas, please discuss within your Area to follow the appropriate protocols.
Thank you for all your work in supporting the IHS mission.
RADM Greggory Woitte, MD, FACOG
Assistant Surgeon General, U.S. Public Health Service
Acting Chief Medical Officer
Indian Health Service