Local Native American tribe leading vaccine effort for parts of Cape Cod

MASHPEE, Mass. — Native American tribal communities are leading the nation in vaccinations, according to federal officials.

The Mashpee Wampanoags were the second tribe in the country to coordinate with FEMA on their COVID-19 response. Their vaccine efforts on tribal lands have been so successful that they’ve opened up their vaccine program to Mashpee and, now, Falmouth teachers.

In December 2020, FEMA announced it awarded the Mashpee Wampanoag more than $130,000 in public assistance grants, which were used to purchase security glass, disinfect the government building and to provide shelter for the Tribe’s homeless.

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“We were the first tribe in the region and the second in the nation to become direct recipients under FEMA for the national COVID emergency declarations,” said Emergency Management Director Nelson Andrews, Jr.  

“So, in the onset of this, we were providing all of the test kits and PPE and everything to our Indian Health Service clinic before even the state and county were able to provide it.”

The Wampanoags are on Phase 3 of their vaccine program, Andrews Jr. said. Tribal members 18-and-older are now available to get a shot. They plan to open it up to 16-year-olds in the coming weeks.

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