A PHRI study team is working with the Six Nations of the Grand River to investigate vaccine hesitancy, immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine, and post-vaccine health outcomes in First Nations communities.
“First Nations people face historical, colonial, and racist policies that influence their health status today in Canada,” notes PHRI Senior Scientist Sonia Anand, Principal Investigator of COVID CommUNITY – First Nations study.
“The rate of reported COVID-19 cases among First Nations people living on-reserve is currently 40% higher than the general Canadian population, as of February 2021. Due to disjointed tracking, the true burden of COVID-19 in First Nations communities is unknown,” says Sonia Anand.
She adds that the PHRI study, which includes collecting, analyzing, and reporting novel data relating to SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness and safety, is “an important study because First Nations want research data from their own communities, and being partners in such research can increase trust in research and in COVID-19 vaccines.”
Research partners at Six Nations
Lori Davis Hill, Director, Six Nations Health Services, agrees. “Collaborating with Dr. Anand to conduct this investigation of COVID-19 immune response and vaccine hesitancy within our territory will help establish important and crucial COVID-19 data.”
She adds that “this data, in turn, will assist us to provide the proper supports to our community members, and help win the continued fight against COVID-19.”
Along with Lori Davis Hill, the Six Nations Health Services team involved in the COVID CommUNITY – First Nations study includes A. Darlene Davis and Sara Smith.
Some of the study participants were part of earlier PHRI research collaboration through the Canadian Alliance of Healthy Hearts and Minds (CAHHM) First Nations cohort, led by Sonia Anand and Russell de Souza, who is also a principal investigator on the COVID CommUNITY – First Nations study.
PHRI has worked with Six Nations as part of this CAHHM First Nations cohort in 2019 and 2020 on Indigenous ‘all about us” data workshops (video).