Dozens of Métis Albertans made their way to the Edmonton Inn and Conference Centre Saturday to get their first shot of the mRNA Pfizer vaccine.
“I just got my Pfizer shot and I feel happy, happy, happy,” said Rose Lewis, who received her first Pfizer vaccine shot.
“It’s a huge boost. Makes us Métis people feel like we count,” said Jason Pearson, who received his first Pfizer vaccine shot.
The Métis Nation of Alberta launched the first Métis-led vaccine clinic in Canada with collaboration from Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services to protect Métis Albertans from contracting COVID-19.
“Métis Albertans have unique health needs that put us at severe health risks for outcomes like hospitalization or death related to COVID-19,” Métis Nation of Alberta director of health Reagan Bartel said.
Bartel said vaccine hesitancy amongst Indigenous peoples is high but work has been underway to educate Métis people about the significance of getting the vaccine.
While the clinic is Métis-led, organizers said all Indigenous Albertans 50 years and older are welcome to come and get their shot.
‘It’s really amazing to see how many people are coming in and how people are excited about it,” clinic volunteer Keith King said.
One-thousand-eight-hundred doses will be administered over the four days and the clinic is only offering the first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.
Those inoculated are being given a reminder card to book their second shot at a pharmacy or possibly a second Métis clinic if supplies become available.
“I had community members come to me today to say I’ve never left comfortable at an immunization clinic, and today I felt like I was coming home, I felt like the community was there and greeting me, and I didn’t even feel my shot,” Bartel said.
“It’s fabulous. It’s like a community event, so it was a really good experience today. I’m really happy I came,” said Jamie Harmon, who received her first Pfizer vaccine shot.
Métis Nation of Alberta president Audrey Poitras received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the clinic Sunday. She said it took some work to get the clinic up and running but the effort was well worth it.
“We just needed to provide that space for our citizens to be able to come (and) feel they were in a safe place, that they were welcomed and that they wanted to do it,” Poitras said.
“Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services have been very co-operative. We have an amazing health director and our senior executive director and their team who have worked really, really hard to put this on, and I think it’s showing great results already.”
The clinic is offering 450 doses each day until Tuesday and while demand is high, organizers say spots are still available.
Those eligible are encouraged to book an appointment on the Métis Nation of Alberta website or call their phone line at 587-415-4044.