Hundreds of doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in a number of local First Nation communities in the area.

Ornge Air Ambluance’s Operation Remote Immunity has begun, which will continue to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to remote communities across Northern Ontario and the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, with the help of the Canadian Rangers, if needed and approved by each community.

“The Moderna vaccine offers protection and hope for Indigenous communities across the North.  It is an honour and a privilege for Ornge to work closely with our partners at Nishnawbe Aski Nation as we ensure community access to this life-saving vaccine,” says Dr. Homer Tien, President and CEO of Ornge. 

“We thank the community leadership for allowing our teams to begin this important work, and we appreciate the many residents who are providing their assistance by encouraging participation, setting up the clinics, and translating.  This effort would not be possible without their support.”

The program’s goal is to vaccinate 31 communities in the area over the next three months, and Ornge aims to complete their work by April 30, 2021. Vaccination teams consist of medical professionals from a variety or healthcare partners, and they’ve all received the vaccine.

“Residents of fly-in First Nations communities are at disproportionate risk during the pandemic,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs.

“Operation Remote Immunity is a critical part of Ontario’s phased vaccination rollout plan to protect the most vulnerable populations in the province and I commend all of the partners involved in delivering on this vital work.”

Staff were in Neskantaga, Slate Falls, Muskrat Dam, Fort Severn, Webequie and Kashechewan yesterday for community-wide vaccination clinics. In Kashechewan, about 217 doses of the vaccine were administered on the first day of the operation. Over 43 were given in Neskantaga, including one to Chief Christopher Moonias.

“Today marks a significant step towards ending the COVID-19 pandemic in Nishnawbe Aski Nation. Vaccination teams are being welcomed in communities across our territory, and I thank Ornge for their dedication to making this a successful rollout,” says Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. 

“The number of community members giving their consent to receive the vaccine is encouraging. I look forward to this momentum continuing within the coming days as more teams enter our communities. We all have a part to play in ending this pandemic. This includes receiving the vaccine if you can to protect those in your community who are not eligible to receive it.”

In his speech to the nation yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked Ornge, the Canadian Rangers and the Nishnawbe-Aski Nation for their efforts with Operation Remote Immunity, and encouraged all community members to get a vaccine as soon as possible.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is asked to get tested and self-isolate immediately, and to stay in isolation until your test results are known. Only those 18 or above are able to receive a vaccine at this time.

For more information:
Hynes helps Ornge with vaccine distribution
Vaccine arrives in Kenora