In an effort to improve vaccination rates in rural communities to help mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) today launched a new resource library that includes curated tools to assist rural stakeholders with immediate, easy to distribute, and co-brand materials to support any organization’s vaccine uptake efforts.
Although many resources are currently available, we know materials focused on rural audiences will be most effective in reaching our communities.
This resource library includes conversation starters and public service announcements developed in partnership with the COVID Collaborative, Health Action Alliance, and the Ad Council that can help rural employers, small business owners, and public sector employers share vaccine facts and improve vaccination access for employees and families.
The resource library can be accessed at:
COVID-19 Vaccine Resources – NRHA (ruralhealthweb.org)
The full press release is available at:
NRHA is hosting a webinar in partnership with Tyson Foods and the Partnership to Fight Infectious Diseases (PFID) titled Increasing COVID-19 Vaccine Confidence in Rural America on Monday, June 14th at 12:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 a.m. CT (webinar flyer attached via NRHA Connect). NRHA Chief Policy Officer Carrie Cochran-McClain will moderate the webinar, and NRHA member and New Mexico Office of Border Health Director Travis Leyva will be a featured speaker. We strongly encourage you to register for this event and join us as we discuss strategies to decrease COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in rural areas. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. A brief description of the event is included below:
“As the country works to expedite administration of the COVID-19 vaccine and educate Americans about its safety and importance, those living in rural communities continue to have questions about availability and access. The National Rural Health Association, Partnership to Fight Infectious Disease, and Tyson Foods will host a one-hour virtual conversation to focus on the importance of vaccination education and distribution, including lessons learned, best practices, challenges, and recommendations. Together we can raise the volume on accessibility and availability of the vaccine and educate the public about the importance of vaccination to stemming the pandemic.”
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Health Center Program-funded health centers and Health Center Program look-alikes (LALs) have administered more than 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses nationwide—with 61% provided to racial and ethnic minorities. Read full news release
HHS Secretary Becerra forms new Behavioral Health Coordinating Council
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is distributing $3 billion in American Rescue Plan funding—the largest aggregate amount of funding to date for its mental health and substance use block grant programs.
The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHBG) Program and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant Program (SABG) will disperse $1.5 billion each to states and territories (with the latter also awarding money to a tribe). This follows the March announcement of supplemental funding of nearly $2.5 billion for these programs. SAMHSA, an operating division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has expedited federal funding to grantees to help communities grappling with mental health and substance use needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CMS Builds on Whole-of-Government COVID-19 Response with Vaccination Education, Offering, and Reporting
As part of the ongoing response to address the COVID-19 pandemic and to improve health care access and reduce the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, CMS issued a rule that will ensure long-term care facilities, and residential facilities serving clients with intellectual disabilities, educate and offer the COVID-19 vaccine to residents, clients, and staff. These requirements apply to Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities and Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICFs-IID) and align with existing requirements for influenza and pneumococcal vaccines in LTC facilities.
The rule also requires LTC facilities to report weekly COVID-19 vaccination status data for both residents and staff. The new vaccination reporting requirement will not only assist in monitoring uptake amongst residents and staff but will also aid in identifying facilities that may be in need of additional resources and/or assistance to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These new requirements reinforce CMS’ commitment of ensuring equitable vaccine access for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries,” said Dr. Lee Fleisher, MD, CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director of CMS’ Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ). “Today’s announcement directly aids nursing home residents and people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Our goal is to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence and acceptance among these individuals and the staff who serve them.”
To ensure LTC facilities receive support for COVID-19 vaccination efforts, they are now required to report weekly vaccination data of residents and staff to the CDC National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN), the nation’s most widely used healthcare-associated infection tracking system. LTC facilities are already required to report COVID-19 testing, case, and mortality data to the NHSN for residents and staff but have not been required to report vaccination data. As data becomes available, CMS will post facility-specific vaccination status information reported to the NHSN for viewing by facilities, stakeholders, and the public on CMS’ COVID-19 Nursing Home Data website.
While this announcement is specific to LTC facilities and ICFs-IID, CMS is also seeking comment on opportunities to expand these policies to help encourage vaccine uptake and access in other congregate care settings, such as psychiatric residential treatment facilities, group homes, and assisted living facilities. By requiring vaccine education and offering within LTC facilities and ICFs-IIDs, CMS is improving health care access and reducing the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.