Nearly 60 clinics will work to address health equity gaps in their communities.
Rural Health Clinics in Arkansas have received nearly $3 million to support efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccinations in rural communities. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gave nearly $100 million to more than 1,980 clinics across the country.
In Arkansas, $2,922,211 will support 59 RHCs. The funding was made available by the American Rescue Plan and is being administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration through the Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence Program.
“Rural health clinics play a crucial role in supporting our national vaccination effort to defeat COVID-19,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said. “This funding will give trusted messengers in rural communities the tools they need to counsel patients on how COVID-19 vaccines can help protect them and their loved ones.”
RHCs will use this funding to improve health literacy, focusing on vaccine safety and the benefits of broad vaccination for rural communities, according to a press release. These efforts will improve health care in rural areas by reinforcing key messages about prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
HRSA is making grant awards to RHCs based on the number of certified clinic sites they operate, providing approximately $49,500 per clinic site. RHCs are a special designation given to health care practices in underserved rural areas by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to help ensure access to care for rural residents.
“Rural Health Clinics are critical partners in addressing health equity gaps, including those related to vaccination,” HRSA acting administrator Diana Espinosa said. “This funding will help Rural Health Clinics address the barriers people in their communities face to getting vaccinated and build confidence in vaccines through trusted resources for health care services and health information.”
HRSA also awarded a $750,000 cooperative agreement to the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health to provide technical assistance to the RHCs participating in this program. The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health will work closely with the National Association of Rural Health Clinics, the technical assistance provider for the RHC COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation Program.
More information about scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination appointment is available on the Arkansas Department of Health’s website.