TUCSON (KVOA) - On Friday, the Biden Administration provided $990,580 to support rural health clinics in Arizona with vaccination efforts, particularly as many communities face increased challenges caused by the Delta variant, HHS announced. The funds will go to 20 Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) who will use these resources to combat COVID-19 misinformation by developing and implementing additional vaccine confidence and outreach efforts. The funding was made available by the American Rescue Plan and is being administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through the Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence (RHCVC) Program.
“Rural health clinics play a crucial role in supporting our national vaccination effort to defeat COVID-19,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “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 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, HHS said. RHCs will also use this funding to improve health literacy, focusing on vaccine safety and the benefits of broad vaccination for rural communities. 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,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Diana Espinosa. “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. Collaboration between HRSA and these organizations ensures RHCs will receive coordinated technical assistance to support their COVID-19 response and improve health care in rural communities.