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By Jamison Keefover

 

Tribes in Oklahoma are offering COVID-19 vaccines to everyone and they are making the process easier with walk-in and drive-thru clinics where no appointment is necessary.

The Osage Nation held a vaccination event at the Osage Nation Downtown Tulsa Casino on Saturday.

They administered Moderna and Johnson & Johnson doses. People were lining up hours before the event started

“They were here at 7 am especially for the Johnson and Johnson shot,” said Byron Bighorse, CEO of Osage Casino Gaming Enterprise. “Everybody seems to want the single dose. I’ve taken the Moderna, I’m able to take my second shot today.”

Bighorse was just one of many getting their second dose at the event.

The Osage Nation has held weekly vaccination clinics in Pawhuska and surrounding areas.

They also offer vaccines at their health clinic.

The walk-in event in Tulsa worked out better for some people though.

“It was just easier to do it here and on the weekend,” said Burgess Shaw of Sand Springs. “I live in Sand Springs so it’s only about a 20 minute drive instead of an hour drive. Also, I work in the schools, I work for Collinsville as a teacher and coach. It’s kind of hard getting out a half day to get the shot.”

Convenience was also a factor for people getting shots at the drive-thru clinic in Catoosa held by the Cherokee Nation.

They utilized space at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to open a clinic where no appointments were needed.

The clinic ran similar to a COVID-19 testing site.

” I think we led the region on testing across out health clinics in northeast Oklahoma,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. with the Cherokee Nation. “Doing it in a drive-thru basis made a big difference in our ability to trace the spread of COVID and of course treat people who had COVID. We just had to take what we were doing in our clinics and bring it out here to the Hard Rock.”

People traveled from across the country to attend the event.

“This morning a couple from Washington state flew in to Tulsa to get this vaccine,” said Hoskin. “We had people drive in from Texas to get this vaccine. Of course the majority of people coming are from this region and that’s how we are going to beat COVID.”

Shirley White of Broken arrow said she was drawn to the event because she didn’t have to struggle to find an appointment.

“All the others, you always had to make appointments and I didn’t know whether they charged you or what,” said White.

The tribes will continue to hold clinics where no appointments are needed.