Local NPR for the Cape, Coast & Islands 90.1 91.1 94.3
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Citizens of Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Traveling from Out of State to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

Sarah Mizes-Tan
The Wampanoag Tribal headquarters in Mashpee.

Some Mashpee Wampanoag tribal citizens are traveling from other states to receive their COVID-19 vaccines from the tribe.

Rob Maxim, of Washington, D.C., plans to get his first dose of the vaccine through the tribal health office on Tuesday, along with his fiance, who has asthma.

“For us to know that both of us are vaccinated is going to be a huge thing,” he said.

They probably couldn’t get vaccinated for several months if they stayed in Washington, he said.

He said the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s ability to offer the vaccine to its citizens and other members of their households is a testament to the tribe’s ability to work with the federal government — and to the government’s interest in making sure Native Americans get vaccinated.

And he feels lucky that the tribe has allocated its doses quickly, with a simplified phasing system, he said.

“There are probably lessons that other government entities could learn from tribes, and from indigenous people,” because a number of tribes have done similar things, he said.

Tribal health offices in the eastern United States have received about 36,000 doses total, according to the Indian Health Service. That’s in an area that runs from Maine to Texas.

Maxim said the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has been fortunate to have relatively fewer cases of COVID-19 than some tribes in the West.

“But there is a long history of diseases — and COVID is another example of that — disproportionately affecting Native communities,” he said.

The couple plans to stay with Maxim’s parents, in Sandwich, until they can get their second dose.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.