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Montana rural clinics receive federal funds aimed at vaccine education

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Montana rural health clinics are set to receive federal funds to support vaccination efforts and combat COVID-19 misinformation.

The funds made available by the American Rescue Plan total $990,580 and will go to 20 rural health clinics in the state. Clinics will use the money to develop and implement vaccine confidence and outreach efforts.

Over 1,980 rural health clinics applied for grants through the Rural Health Clinic Vaccine Confidence (RHCVC) Program, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The program initiative is meant to improve vaccine confidence and counter vaccine hesitancy in rural communities where vaccination rates lag behind more populated areas.

The grant amount awarded to each clinic is based on the number of certified sites a rural clinic operates, with about $49,500 going to each clinic.

The clinics must utilize the grant resources by June 30, 2022.

The push for vaccine education comes as disparities in vaccination access between urban and rural communities show potential for hindering progress towards ending the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Residents of rural communities are also at increased risk for severe COVID-19 cases and death, according to the CDC.

“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,” according to a press release from HHS.

HRSA and the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health also provided $750,000 for technical assistance webinars to the clinics participating in the program.

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