President Joe Biden is planning to announce on Tuesday that coronavirus vaccines will be sent directly to rural areas in the hopes of getting more employees and residents immunized.
According to NPR, the Biden administration has crated a list of physicians who are based in ‘socially vulnerable’ communities.
These are neighborhoods where many people live below the poverty line, are low-income earners, fall into racial or ethnic minorities and have no access to public transportation.
The administration hopes that pediatricians and family doctors can other local leaders can help reach vaccine hesitant Americans and convince them to get the COVID-19 shot to protect them and their families
The Biden administration will announce on Tuesday a new plan to send COVID-19 vaccine doses directly to doctors in rural areas to help convince vaccine hesitant Americans to get the jab. Pictured: People 80 and older began receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at the Oregon Convention Center, February 10
A new survey of rural hospital executives shows 30% say fewer than half of their healthcare workers have gotten at least one dose
According to The Daily Yonder, about one in four rural residents is completely vaccinated against COVID-19, about 10 percent lower than the urban proportion.
Additionally, at least 20 states – including Florida, Georgia and Louisiana – had rural vaccination rates at least 20 percent worse than vaccination rates in cities.
Therefore, the administration is putting their trust in healthcare professionals to reach vaccine hesitant community members.
‘Luckily we know that the overwhelming majority of health care providers are very supportive of [the] vaccine,’ Bechara Choucair, White House Vaccinations Coordinator, told NPR.
Chouchair cited national data showing that 90 percent of doctors and nurses in master’s degrees programs have been vaccinated or are in the process of doing so.
‘We need to do that across the board for health care professionals and non-health care professionals and will continue to do that,’ he added.
However, many rural hospitals are not just struggling to vaccinate residents but their own staff members as well.
Rural vaccination rates lag behind urban rates by as much as 20% in nearly half of U.S. states. Pictured: Terrell Carter encourages his neighbors to get a vaccine at Friendship Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, April 22
One survey, conducted by the National Rural Health Association and the Chartis Group, interviewed 160 rural hospital executives and asked what percentage of their employees had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Thirty percent of them said that fewer than half of theit healthcare workers had received at least one dose.
This is despite the fact that frontline workers have been eligible to receive vaccines since the rollout began in December 2020.
Only 10 percent of the executives said that nearly all of their employees had been at least partially immunized.
‘These survey results match what we are hearing from our members and that is tremendously problematic,’ Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, told NPR.
‘At a federal level, every effort to overcome vaccine hesitancy has health care professionals front and center.
‘So if you’ve got a quarter of the nation’s rural hospitals having less than 50 percent of their staff vaccinated, you have a problem that needs to be fixed now.’
Jeff Tindle, CEO of Carroll County Memorial Hospital, in Carrollton, Missouri, told NPR that he is disappointed the vaccination rate among his employees is so low.
As of Monday, just 59 percent have been vaccinated and he does not expect that many more will do so.
‘I’m disappointed that we built in so many safeguards…first and foremost to protect our employees, and yet we had almost 40 percent who chose not to help themselves,’ he said.
However, other communities have had more success, such as Memorial Hospital in North Conway, New Hampshire, where 78 percent of workers are vaccinated.
Higher-ups credit a local physician who wrote a letter to everyone on staff encouraging them to get vaccinated, citing studies that showed the vaccines were safe and effective. and that side effects were mostly mild.
‘I know that [letter] swayed people, because I had people tell me that,’ Will Owen, who runs the hospital’s community vaccination clinic, told NPR.