In hopes to support outreach efforts and increase vaccination rates in rural communities, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has provided almost $100 million to rural health clinics (RHCs) across the country. Funds will be allocated to more than 1980 RHCs and will be used to “develop and implement additional vaccine confidence and outreach” as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the country, noted the agency in a press release.
The American Rescue Plan made funding available and is being administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through the Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence (RHCVC) Program.
Rural health care centers “are well positioned to disseminate information about how and where to get vaccinated at the local level, and coordinate with existing vaccination sites and public health partners to identify strategies to increase vaccine confidence among key populations,” the HHS stated. Among efforts to promote the COVID-19 vaccine, RHCs will use portions of the funds to improve health literacy focusing on vaccine safety and the benefits of vaccines for rural communities.
Grant awards are based on the number of certified RHC sites operated, with approximately $49,500 allocated to each site. These sites “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,” the HHS stated.
As RHCs are critical in communities, the funding will help build vaccine confidence through trusted resources for health care services. According to HRSA, RHCVC aims to improve vaccine confidence and diminish vaccine hesitancy in rural communities where COVID-19 vaccination rates are low in comparison to more populated areas. Efforts include:
- Improving of health care in rural areas
- Increasing vaccination rates by promoting vaccine confidence and uptake
- Increasing access to vaccinations
- Educating rural Americans on vaccine safety and benefits
- Providing information to rural residents on where and how to get vaccinated
HRSA also partnered with organizations such as National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health and National Association of Rural Health Clinics to provide technical assistance to RHCs participating in this program.
1. US Department of Health and Human Services. Biden-Harris administration provides $100 million to Rural Health Clinics for COVID-19 vaccine outreach in their communities to increase vaccinations. Accessed July 27, 2021. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/07/22/biden-harris-admin-provides-100-million-to-rural-health-clinics-for-covid-19-vaccination.html
2. Health Resources and Services Administration. Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence (RHCVC) program. Accessed July 28, 2021. https://www.hrsa.gov/coronavirus/rural-health-clinics/confidence