The Memphis-based research hospital is using the money to educate rural Tennessee residents about the vaccine.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – With $ 377,000 from the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability (TCAD), faculty and staff at the University of Tennessee Health Science Centers (UTHSC) College of Nursing are on the ground three days a week in six rural western Tennessee counties, offering tuition about the COVID-19 vaccine to residents.
UTHSC said in many rural areas of the region that the percentage of people who have received two doses of vaccine is around 40% or less. At the national level, the figure is 64 per cent.
“People have been getting information about the vaccines from various sources like social media or just conversations around a neighbor’s kitchen table,” said Diana Dedmon, director of clinical affairs and Michael Carter-gifted professor at UTHSC. “We want to provide reliable information from the Centers for Disease Control and the Tennessee Department of Health and let people make their own decisions.”
According to the UTHSC, teams of two nurses will each be in rural areas through September 2022, building relationships through chambers of commerce, churches and civic groups in Dyer, Lake, Tipton, Lauderdale, Fayette and subordinate parts of Shelby County.
Students on the UTHSC nursing program will help with the effort this spring.
The research hospital said these nurses look for the specific needs of each community and tailor the training to fit.
“We want to be respectful, provide the necessary training, answer questions and allow residents to make an informed decision about the COVID vaccination,” Dedmon said.
“The whole process has been a rich learning experience,” she said. “Counties right next to each other have completely different perspectives. It’s about knowing the people and developing a message that suits the people you are trying to serve. And we do not know what that need may be until we develop relationships and getting to know the people in every community. “