by Maggie Lawrence
AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Extension at Alabama A&M and Auburn universities has joined land-grant institutions across the nation to strengthen immunization education. Alabama Extension is partnering with the Extension Foundation, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the effort to reduce adult vaccination hesitancy around COVID and other adult immunizations.
Grant Funds Effort
Both institutions received funding from the Extension Foundation through the Extension Collaborative on Immunization Teaching and Engagement (EXCITE) project. Alabama Extension’s efforts are led by Matt Ulmer and Barb Struempler on the Auburn campus. Tamara Warren, Kimberly Holmes and Haley Burns will lead efforts on the Alabama A&M campus.
“The EXCITE grant leverages the collective strengths of Extension resources across the United States,” said Mike Phillips, Alabama Extension director at Auburn University.
The grant program provided initial funding to more than 70 land grant institutions, and 24 institutions received additional funding in the effort’s Phase 2. The primary goal of the grant aims to promote increased vaccinations through relevant messaging and innovative models that are based on science and data for community action.
Alabama’s Current Situation
- Sixty-six of Alabama’s 67 counties are rated high risk for COVID transmission.
- The state’s overall positivity rate is more than 24 percent.
- Alabama’s fully vaccinated population stands at less than 35 percent.
- Approximately 43 percent have gotten at least one dose.
“Our priority audiences are rural residents, communities of color and medically underserved areas of the state,” said Allen Malone, Extension director at Alabama A&M University. “We will identify more specific audiences based on need and opportunity.”
Part of Extension’s Mission
Phillips said Extension launched the Get the Shot social media campaign to reach these targeted audiences.
“In the first week, thousands of people have used the information to make informed choices for their families,” Phillips said. “Vaccination is our best path to ending the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The campaign shares information based on peer-reviewed science, summarized by the CDC and Auburn University experts. These efforts embody a key value of Extension.
“This is just another way in which Extension continues to fulfill its land-grant mission of delivering relevant, research-based information,” Phillips said. “Extension professionals are more than just knowledge providers. We add value to knowledge by showing people the practical, meaningful and lasting utility that can be gained from it.”
Visit AlabamaReady.info for COVID-19 information. Also, like and share Extension’s Get the Shot messaging on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.