The First Nations of the Grand River community in southwestern Ontario is joining PHRI to investigate vaccine hesitancy, immune response to the COVID-19 vaccine, and post-vaccine health outcomes in their community.
“First Nations people face historical, colonial, and racist policies that influence their health status today in Canada,” says 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 70% higher than the rate of the general Canadian population, as of August 15, 2021. Due to disjointed tracking, the true burden of COVID-19 in First Nations communities is unknown,” she notes.
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.”
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.”
Lori 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.
They and other members of Six Nations have been part of the Canadian Alliance of Healthy Hearts and Minds (CAHHM) First Nations cohort, led by Sonia Anand and Russell de Souza (who is also an investigator on COVID CommUNITY-FN).