Group receives federal grant for rural COVID-19 outreach

Local News

LADYSMITH, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Two of the counties with the lowest covid-19 vaccination rates in the state are in western Wisconsin.

First News at Nine’s Maria Blough shares how a million-dollar grant is looking to reduce barriers to the vaccination and to understand vaccine hesitancy in rural areas.

“It’s been really difficult to see how much it’s impacted such a wide variety of people,” said Anna Ringstad, the development director for Indianhead Community Action Agency. “It’s not just healthcare clinics being full of people who are sick. It is your businesses. It’s your ma and pa shops that have been around for years that are now struggling to even just keep their doors open. “

Ringstad grew up in Rusk County, and moving back last year during the pandemic, she’s seen the impact it has had on her community.

Now she’s hopeful a federal grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration can help.

“Being able to receive a million dollar grant that can make such an impact for the communities that we serve is surreal,” Ringstad said. “It still doesn’t feel real.”

Indianhead Community Action Agency said one of the goals for this new grant is to remove barriers for those looking to get vaccinated from providing gas cards to get to a vaccine clinic or covering up to two hours of child care.

However that’s not the agency’s main plan for those federal dollars.

“Our biggest goal there is really to one, get information out to people,” said Jennifer Shearer, the chief executive officer for Indianhead Community Action Agency. “We are not in a position to push people to get the vaccine. We’re not pushing people to not to get it. We just want to make sure the resources and the educational materials they may need or want are available to them.”

CEO Jennifer Shearer says it’s also an opportunity to strengthen local partnerships in the counties they serve.

In Rusk County, Maria Blough First News at Nine.

The grant will fund COVID-19 outreach programs in Burnett, Clark, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, and Washburn counties for the next year. Indianhead community action agency will also be hiring thanks to the federal dollars.

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