The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has been awarded a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fund COVID-19 outreach efforts across Arkansas.
UAMS said it will use the grant to mobilize and deploy community health workers, patient navigators and social support specialists to “the most vulnerable and medically underserved” communities across the state, including racial and ethnic minority groups.
The grant will be used to educate communities about the vaccine, help people access resources, assist individuals in making a vaccine appointment, and assist individuals with transportation or other needs to get to vaccine appointments.
“This funding will allow UAMS to expand both our community health worker collaborative and our service area into more rural areas. It will also allow us to engage with new target populations to remove structural barriers to COVID-19 vaccinations in culturally and linguistically appropriate ways,” said Pearl McElfish, Ph.D., director of the UAMS Office of Community Health and Research.
The HHS grant, through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is part of $66.5 million in American Rescue Plan funding to eight grantees to expand outreach efforts in 38 states and the District of Columbia to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence and vaccinations.
“This grant will have far-reaching health benefits for the entire country and for our state,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA. “It will require a rapid and efficient start-up and will involve collaboration among multiple departments across UAMS, as well as state, local and regional community organizations. We are very appreciative of HHS and HRSA for making this possible.”
“Building vaccine confidence is critical to increasing vaccinations,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a news release. “This investment by the Biden-Harris administration further expands our progress in partnering with trusted local messengers to deliver needed information on COVID-19 vaccines. This funding will help even more community-based organizations build confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine among people in their community who may not have been vaccinated yet.”