We’ve all been anxiously awaiting the end of the COVID-19 pandemic … and a return to “normal” life.
And now we have entered an incredibly hopeful – and vitally important – stage of our journey out of this historic public health crisis.
Our hope is fueled by the long anticipated deployment of new COVID-19 vaccines that are both safe and effective.
Vaccines are marvels of medical science, but they cannot work unless enough of us do our part and accept them.
As a company whose primary concern is the health and wellbeing of our members and our communities, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is committing substantial effort and resources to help keep people safe and work to end the pandemic.
We’re in the process of ramping up internal and external initiatives to encourage people to accept the vaccine as soon as it’s their turn. We are:
- Working with partners throughout Arkansas to produce a multifaceted grassroots outreach and communications initiative – “Vaccinate the Natural State” – about COVID-19 vaccines.
- In partnership with the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/ Associated Industries of Arkansas and the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, Northwest Arkansas Council and Walmart, we are reaching out to employers to help prepare them for getting employees vaccinated and returning to the workplace.
- Focusing on underserved populations in our state (like the African American, Latinx, Pacific Islander and rural communities), we are working with the Arkansas Minority Health Commission, the Northwest Arkansas Council and UAMS to address some culture specific hesitancies, fears and misperceptions; ensure ready access to the vaccines; and promote vaccination.
- Assisting in facilitating and promoting COVID-19 vaccination events statewide.
There are lots of different views on COVID-19 vaccination. And it’s understandable that some people may be confused or conflicted. But for me, it’s simple: It’s about family and the preciousness of life. My greatest pandemic fear has been the possibility of infecting my 81-year-old mother, who already suffers with heart and lung conditions. I’m going to do my best to avoid that tragic scenario by staying safe … and getting the vaccine as soon as I can.
Vaccination protects my family, supports the valiant efforts of our heroic healthcare workers and scientists and honors the memory of those who have fallen to COVID-19. It would be a shame to let vaccine fear, mistrust and misinformation allow the pandemic to rage on and claim even more lives.
So let’s all do our part by washing our hands, watching our distance, wearing a mask … and getting the vaccine as soon as it’s our turn.
Curtis Barnett is President and CEO of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.