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How Ottawa Co. tribes are helping citizens in 4 states receive vaccinations

Posted at 1:07 AM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-26 02:07:16-04

TULSA, Okla. — At the Downstream Casino — along the Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas border — there’s more than just gaming going on inside.

”It’s definitely a sense of relief I think to be able to get this shot," said Liz Scheurich, a vaccine recipient. "You’re less likely to get it now, and so I think I just had a sense of relief, and definitely after the second shot, I’ll feel a lot better,”

The Quapaw Tribe and Northeastern Tribal Health System are doubling down to help bring an end to the pandemic.

”We’re so happy to have those connections to offer that here at Downstream to the employees, you know, because some states haven’t released it to the regular person who isn’t tribal or doesn’t fit their parameters quite yet,” said Brock Moorehouse, vaccine recipient.

Because of the casino’s location and the Quapaw’s tribal jurisdiction — this vaccine clinic will soon open its doors to walk-ins from Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, and even Arkansas.

"We would like to send the message that COVID-19 knows no borders, and it doesn’t discriminate between tribal or non-tribal,” said Joseph Byrd, chairman of the Quapaw Tribe

Byrd and many others believe the quicker their allotted vaccines get out to the public — the better their most vulnerable populations will be protected.

"Tribal nations are great partners — we’re willing to collaborate for public safety, for health and welfare of not just tribal communities, but everybody that’s within the state of Oklahoma," Byrd said.

Even people from nearby Joplin, Missouri are getting protected.

"Where I live at, I wouldn’t be able to use it because I don’t qualify quite yet to get the vaccine right now,” Moorehouse said.

"I was excited to be able to get it because that makes me a lot more comfortable going out in public, and knowing that I have it now, I feel a lot safer,” Scheurich said.

Stephanie Hart, oversees the COVID-19 response for Northeastern Tribal Health System, said, "As we’ve gotten more vaccine in, we have opened — who we will give it to more and more."

Hart's clinic has distributed over 4,500 doses of the vaccine.

"It's very amazing. It feels very humbling,” she said.

It’s a way tribes are doing their part to protect more than just their enrolled members.

"I think it’s great, and I'm very appreciative that they are doing this and offering it. I think it’s great,” Hart said.

On April 13, the Downstream Casino will hold another mass vaccination clinic to anyone in the four-state area.

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