I love a good conspiracy theory - especially the ones that are all over the interwebs these days. But while some seemingly outrageous conspiracy theories have turned out to be true, many can be disproved. For instance: North Dakota Native Americans will not be guinea pigs for COVID-19 vaccinations.

This week, I saw a screenshot from a Grand Forks Herald story that said that federal agencies "are interested in forming plans for vaccine distribution on Native American reservations, of which the state has five. The program is solely intended to figure out the logistics of distributing a vaccine if one becomes available..." The story also says that this does not involve clinical trials. Get the Grand Forks Herald story here.

Well, that screenshot had people concerned what this could mean for Native Americans in North Dakota. Like, are they trying to wipe out Native Americans? Though this isn't necessarily a far-fetched idea (yes, genocide DOES happen), NO, the government IS NOT trying to wipe them out.

So, I did a little digging and found out what is actually going on. According to the North Dakota Department of Health's website, "North Dakota has been selected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one of four states to be part of a pilot project to plan for distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. This is not a vaccine trial." That information is in the first two lines of the NDDoH's pilot project for a COVID-19 vaccine. Check that out here.

What exactly is happening? Again, according to NDDoH's website, "the strength of our immunization program," (I wasn't 100% sure what that meant. Read more here) is the reason why the pilot project is happening here. Things like planning for proper transportation and storage of a vaccine are what will be happening during the pilot project.

How does this pertain to Native Americans in North Dakota? Here's more of what the NDDoH's website says: "the CDC is interested in learning from tribal entities to explore strategies to reach American Indian populations and help determine opportunities as it relates to vaccine planning and distribution." So, the five North Dakota tribal entities and North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission are invited to participate. But again, they're not forcing trial vaccines on Native Americans.

What do you think about North Dakota being a pilot project for COVID-19 vaccine planning?

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