How will the immune response to COVID‑19 vaccination among Indigenous peoples in the Northwest Territories change over time?

Sharma, Sangita | $497,911

Alberta University of Alberta 2021 CIHR Operating Grant

Immune response to vaccination can be different for many people, depending on age, sex, gender, and ethnicity. Some may have a reduced response, and it is important to measure this among different populations to understand the effectiveness of the COVID‑19 (C19) vaccine. This is essential for pandemic policy and planning to implement strong vaccination programs, ease the impact of C19, and find out if and when booster shots may be needed. With full engagement in research leadership, collaboration, and decision-making, and sharing of knowledge with the communities, the Community Advisory Board (CAB) and partners this project will: 1) look at C19 immune response at two time points using dried blood spots taken by a finger prick among both vaccinated and unvaccinated Indigenous peoples in 4 Northwest Territories (NT) Tlicho communities; and 2) share results with communities and all partners. We will collect important new information for the prevention of C19 as there is currently limited evidence available on the effectiveness of the C19 vaccine for Indigenous peoples. This work has involved a process of consultation and agreement with the Tlicho Government to ensure methods are culturally safe and relevant and that outcomes will provide direct community benefit. We will provide training and employment to local community staff, as we have done successfully in other projects. The team is ready to partner with the communities and the CAB to collect this evidence quickly by expanding an ongoing C-19 project, which is working with the same 4 communities. The project is co-led by Rachel Oystrek, an experienced Indigenous Public Health Program Coordinator, and Hotii ts’eeda NT SPOR Support Unit with support from Dr. John B. Zoe, a highly respected Indigenous leader. The team includes academic and local researchers, public health policymakers, and international and national collaborators. Collecting this information is necessary for the future prevention of C19 in NT.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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