Native American community warned underlying conditions make COVID more deadly

Mar 12, 2021

The state Health Department has been reaching out to various communities across New York, working with them on COVID-19 and now on the importance of receiving the vaccine. Thursday evening’s "fireside chat" was with the Native American community.

New York's Native American community is only around 1% of the population, but that is still around 200,000 people.  The virus has ravaged the community because of underlying health issues.

A sign that appears on a First Nations reservation.
Credit First Nations Development Institute

Michael Martin, executive director of Buffalo’s Native American Community Services, said elders have been hit very badly.

"When we lose elders, we lose libraries of knowledge and information and stories and demonstrations and ceremonies and songs that thankfully they have probably passed that on, but, unfortunately, we lose that going forward as an asset for our communities," Martin said, "and we want to protect our elders, but we want to protect all of our life."

That is why so much focus during the session was on the importance of being vaccinated.

Upstate Medical Center Doctor Brian Thompson also took many questions related to the virus and pregnancy, pointing to the risks of being pregnant and getting COVID. He said the vaccine does not change the DNA of a recipient.