Atikamekw community with confirmed cases getting vaccine supply

With more than 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases since mid-December, people in the Atikamekw community of Opitciwan in Quebec are getting vaccinated.

Doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived by helicopter to start a three day vaccination campaign.

A welcome sight say people here.

“The first two cases were on the 13th, and with lightning speed we reached 109 confirmed cases by January second,” said Martin Awashish in French, coordinator of the community’s emergency committee. “There are always tests being done at the health center because we have a local testing center here.”

Awashish believes the a major cause of the outbreak in the community of 2,000 is car sharing.

When a trip to the nearest down starts with a 150 km drive down a logging road, car sharing becomes a way of life.

“We carried out two very important activities for the community,  the massive screening of December 31, 2020, then mass vaccination on over three days, January 4, 5, 6, 2021.”

Another vaccination period is taking place this week.

There are 1,200 vaccines for the community located about 700 km northwest of Montreal.

Opitciwan Elder Paul-Yves Weizineau hopes others will not have to experience what he went through after testing positive for COVID-19.

“My breath, I couldn’t take a deep breath because I felt like there were needles in my lungs,” he said in French. “This is the first, the first crisis where I almost let go, let go, when I called on my [deceased] father and my [deceased] mother to come and get me. ”

The closest hospital to Opiticiwan is three and a half hours away.

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