Saint Regis Mohawks hope incentives will encourage vaccinations

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 6:22 PM EDT
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ST. REGIS MOHAWK RESERVATION (WCAX) - Vaccination rates among the BIPOC community remain below the national average, and COVID case counts are on the rise on the Akwesasne reservation.

Are there reservations on the reservation when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine? Some say yes, others say no, but the tribe is offering new incentives in order to get more shots in arms.

Each week at the former IGA building, syringes are filled with the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.

“It’s just been constant. With the numbers going up in the community, people want the vaccine,” said Theresa Gardner, a family nurse practitioner.

Allowing those who live on the reservation a shot at getting a dose to protect themselves from COVID-19.

“I would just say to everybody be vaccinated if you can and get tested. If you have symptoms, get tested,” Gardner said.

In order to help stop the spread of the virus, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe has put a mask mandate back inside businesses and restaurants.

“I think it’s good. I think it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Kathy Aufdengarten, who lives in Malone.

They are offering incentives to any member of the tribe for each shot they get at the clinic.

“Some people-- yes, it’s all about the incentive. Others walk in and don’t even know there is an incentive,” Gardner said.

It’s $100 a shot. If you’re over 18, it’s a gift card to the casino but it can be exchanged for cash. If you are under 18, it’s a gift card to Walmart.

“Incentives are nice for people who still need to be vaccinated,” said Craig Arquette, who lives on the reservation.

But some do have reservations about getting the vaccine. People at the clinic said off-camera they didn’t want it but had to get it for their jobs. Others, like Arquette, say it’s not required at work but makes things easier.

He says people should do their research and make a decision on the vaccine that is best for them.

“It shouldn’t be imposed upon them,” Arquette said.

Right now, the vaccination rate on the reservation is at 49%. Once it hits 50%, there will be a drawing for five people to win $1,000. They are doing it again once it hits 60%.

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