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Arkansas Blue Cross Supports Southeast Arkansas COVID- 19 Vaccination Education

The Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas has awarded $214,100 to the UAMS FAITH Network and the Arkansas Medical, Dental and Pharmaceutical Association (AMDPA) to train and provide resources to faith-based organizations in Southeast Arkansas to help educate residents about the COVID-19 vaccinations.

The Arkansas Department of Health’s Office of Faithbased Outreach will also offer support in these efforts. The purpose of this grassroots outreach and educational effort is to address vaccine hesitancy and encourage vaccination acceptance.

“As the demand for vaccines has dropped off, especially during such a critical stage in the battle against Covid-19, we find it necessary to take our message to Arkansans through a grassroots educational initiative,” said Curtis Barnett, president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “Despite COVID-19 vaccines having an excellent safety record, vaccine hesitancy continues to be a challenge in some of our rural communities. We’re optimistic that addressing this issue with the
support of faith-based organizations will increase vaccine uptake.”

To ensure the faith community, including underserved and racial and ethnic minority communities, are provided with continued support, the Arkansas Department of Health Office of Faith-based Outreach will coordinate The Faith and the COVID-19 Vaccine Education Initiative, a platform for communities of faith to have real-time, live discussions with medical experts from their same racial and ethnic background, and to have their questions answered so that they can make decisions that can ultimately protect themselves and their loved ones.

Programs will be tailored to meet the specific needs of each faith community by using web conferencing, live video streaming, face -to-face meetings, or combinations of each.

AMDPA will furnish healthcare subject matter experts who are members of its organization to be speakers. Established in 1893, AMDPA is the state’s leading minority healthcare provider association, representing more than 400 African American physicians, dentists, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals in Arkansas. AMDPA is a powerful voice for the healthcare rights and equitable treatment of the minority and underserved and has continually worked to implement healthcare initiatives that have the potential to bridge major health gaps that exist within the minority population.

The UAMS FAITH Network will be debuting a new COVID-19 Concierge Service for faith leaders. Those who join the service will be connected with a Community Health Worker to serve as their concierge to help navigate COVID-19 related resources and programming. The goal is to provide faith leaders the support they need to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.

To learn more about the COVID-19 Concierge Service, contact Tamier Wells at or 501-779-8794.

The one-year grant will help pay for the cost of hiring community health workers, recruiting speakers, developing the curriculum and community education materials, scheduling speaking opportunities, and coordinating community engagement.

“The faith community has historically played an important role in public health,” said Creshelle Nash, M.D., M.P.H, C.H.I.E, medical director for Arkansas Blue Cross’ Health Equity and Public Programs. “Making sure our rural and underserved residents receive the information they need from a trusted source about the safety and reasoning behind the COVID-19 vaccination is critical. We believe this partnership with the UAMS FAITH Network, AMDPA and the Arkansas Department of Health will allow us to support our communities with information, vaccinations and other much-needed resources to help stop the spread of COVID19 and vaccinate the natural state.”

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