EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – Health and community organizations throughout Wisconsin have more money to promote COVID-19 vaccinations in underserved communities.

Thursday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced it awarded $8.1 million in grants to organizations throughout the state with the goal of increasing vaccination rates.

One recipient is the Family Health Center of Marshfield. The Marshfield Clinic partner received $100,000.

The center’s Director of Health Services, Eva Scheppa, said the money will be used for a media campaign to reach children and their caregivers.

We are looking to increase awareness of the vaccine, build confidence in the vaccine and improve the rates for children,” she said.

Scheppa said the campaign includes engaging minority communities where English may not be their first language.

“We’re focusing on Latinx populations, Hispanic populations, the Hmong population,” she said.

ABC for Rural Health, Inc. also received a grant worth $57,860.

The organization’s Chief Operating Officer, Mike Rust, said the money will be used to reach more people in rural western Wisconsin.

“We’re talking about health care issues,” he said. “We’re talking about health care access. ‘Do you have any questions about COVID-19 vaccines? Are you vaccinated? Are you planning on getting vaccinated? Do you need any assistance with resources to get that done?’”

Rust said that in addition to directly reaching out to people, the organization is trying to use its clients as messengers.

“We’ve adopted a kind of a ‘say it forward’ campaign, which is that once we’ve engaged these folks in the conversation, we say, ‘OK, are there other people that trust you that you would be interested in sharing some of this information with,’” he said.

Rust added he’s seen an increase in vaccine interest over the past few weeks since the Omicron variant was discovered.

The DHS is still accepting grant applications with an additional $13 million to give out through late 2022.

For a full list of recipients click here.