A line of vehicles stretched the entire length of the Cowichan Tribes band office parking lot Wednesday morning as members signed in for their first chance at a COVID-19 vaccine.
Six hundred doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived at the Duncan-area First Nation Tuesday.
A drive-thru vaccination centre began administering shots early Wednesday morning.
“When I looked over and saw the cars lined up, I was overwhelmed with tears knowing that our community and our elders are going to be safe with a vaccination,” said Marine Elliott, associate health director with Cowichan Tribes.
Rows of white tents manned by public health nurses welcomed vehicle after vehicle.
Nurses gave tribes members a brief questionnaire before administering the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Tribes administrators say they have been directed to administer all 600 doses, and don’t yet know when the second dose of the vaccine will come.
According to a public health nurse, the vaccinations for Cowichan Tribes members are the first to be administered to anyone in the entire region.
The Vancouver Island First Nation is in the middle of a worsening outbreak of COVID-19.
On Wednesday, cases climbed to 90 within the tribes’ small population. The band has around 5,000 members.
Tribes leaders say 73 people are in isolation and two are in hospital.
The vaccine also comes amid a troubling surge in racism aimed at members of island First Nations.
- Read more: Island First Nation considers RCMP, human rights investigations after COVID-based discrimination
In one case, a band member said they had a medical appointment cancelled based only on their ethnic background.
Wednesday, federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller called the acts of discrimination “disgusting.”
The drive-thru vaccination centre will operate daily until Friday.