The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Nursing has received a $76,350 sub-award from a $200,000 grant to the UT Institute of Agriculture to improve vaccination rates in rural and underserved communities.
The co-principal investigators from the college are Professor Sara Day, PhD, RN, FAAN, assistant dean for the Center for Community and Global Partnerships; and Assistant Professor Diana Dedmon, DNP, FNP, BC, director of clinical affairs and holder of the Michael Carter Endowed Professorship.
“This grant will allow us to work directly with persons from rural Tennessee to learn their concerns and answer their questions about the COVID vaccine and other adult vaccines,” Dr. Day said.
The grant proposes to strengthen immunization education among adults in six rural and underserved counties in Tennessee through a collaboration between grant investigators, UT Extension agents, and the Tennessee Department of Health. The six West Tennessee counties covered by the grant include Benton, Lawrence, McNairy, Hardin, Wayne, and Fentress.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Tennessee ranked 46th in the country for vaccination as of May 10, 2021, with 35.8% of adults in Tennessee having received one COVID vaccine dose compared to the 45.8% national average.
The UT extension agents will develop a community advisory board for each county to discuss each community’s specific needs. The CON team will then meet with those boards to learn about the needs of each community in order to create messaging and vaccination education toolkits tailored to those needs. Building on that effort, the CON team will partner with the Tennessee Department of Health to create opportunities for vaccination in those counties.
College of Nursing Dean Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-Bc, FAANP, said, “We are grateful to receive this funding and to collaborate in this very timely issue of addressing vaccine hesitancy. This is one example of many in how nurses lead in improving the health of our communities.”
Dr. Dedmon added, “The grant is very unique since the CDC is funding the initiative through the Cooperative Extension System to address adult immunization education by developing pilot projects. We plan to offer both educational information about which vaccines are recommended for adults and help inform the rural residents about how to receive the vaccinations.”