Local businesses can play a big role in getting rural customers and neighbors vaccinated for Covid-19

Published 5:33 pm Monday, June 14, 2021

Kentucky Health News
“A return to regular, small-town living will require a continuous effort to get residents vaccinated for Covid-19, according to the head of the Rural America Chamber of Commerce,” Adilia Watson reports for The Daily Yonder. But do employers know how crucial they are to making that happen?

“A lot of business leaders, small business owners . .. see this as a critical issue,” Sherri Powell, the Rural Chamber’s executive director, said during the recent online National Rural Business Summit, which “explored outreach tools that business leaders, public health officials, and elected officials can use to share information in rural communities about Covid-19 vaccination,” Watson reports.

Employers are important sources of information for their employees, and they can cut through medical and public-health terminology to “describe what science says in an accessible way,” said Maria Elena Castro, a health equity program analyst with the Oregon Health Authority.

“As part of the online summit, the National Rural Health Association released a toolkit for communicating about vaccination in rural areas,” Watson notes. The Health Action Alliance, which sponsored the event, has a checklist for rural employers who want to do more to educate workers and community members about coronavirus vaccination.
Without herd immunity, estimated at 70 to 80 percent of a population, “We will never get back to normal, even as small towns,” Powell said. “We can’t gather at the local baseball team’s games, or we can’t head into summer camp. These things are just not going to happen in a safe way until we take this seriously and get the shots.”