Contact: Allison Matthews
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State is partnering with the Delta Health Alliance to encourage more people at the university and around the state to get a COVID-19 vaccination.
Funding from the Delta Health Alliance Mississippi RIVER Project is helping MSU’s vaccine adoption efforts both on campus and via MSU Extension, which has offices statewide in all 82 counties.
MSU Vice President for Student Affairs Regina Hyatt said the communication effort to encourage vaccination is a multi-pronged approach, including a new student team called Vaccine Ambassadors which will work during the school year to provide information to MSU students.
“We’re hiring 20 students who will work as our VA team going to student events and organization meetings. They will be able to discuss commonly asked questions and encourage fellow students to come to one of our pop-up clinics or the Longest Student Health Center to get vaccinated,” Hyatt explained.
Mississippi RIVER is an acronym that stands for Recognizing Important Vaccine and Education Resources. With support from the Health Resources and Services Administration, the purpose of the DHA initiative “is to establish, mobilize and support community outreach workers to improve health equity by educating and assisting individuals in getting COVID-19 vaccinations, particularly among rural populations and communities of color.” The overall grant, which employs multiple partnerships, funds outreach workers to raise awareness of the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as assist in other ways, such as working with healthcare providers and addressing specific barriers of vulnerable populations.
“Delta Health Alliance is partnering again with MSU in a regional effort to provide information about and access to lifesaving vaccinations and healthcare services. Campus outreach programs will serve as important vehicles for sharing accurate information so that students, faculty and staff can make informed decisions about their health and well-being,” said DHA Vice President of Community Relations Brooks Ann Gaston. “By working together, we can help our students protect themselves and their families.”
Hyatt said many student and employee incentives also are being funded through the DHA grant. Student incentives include raffles for $100 flexible dining dollars, $250 bookstore vouchers, $190 parking decal vouchers and two drawings for $9,000 in tuition. MSU employee incentives have included National Championship gear and meal vouchers, with more planned for the fall semester.
She explained that in addition to outreach workers and incentives, educational materials including printed collateral and videos will be widely distributed on campus.
“We know that vaccination is our best defense against the spread of COVID-19, and we need the whole Mississippi State community to do their part to ensure we have a healthy, safe return to campus,” Hyatt said. “We all want to enjoy all of the things that come with the student experience—student life activities, football games, tailgating—and being vaccinated is going to be very important to all of that.”
State Health Specialist David Buys said the portion of the DHA grant that impacts MSU Extension will provide outreach to community groups around the state. Speakers will be available to share current data and make referrals to trusted, accurate sources of information, he said.
“We’re trying to help people around the state as they work through various questions they have by making good information readily available. We hope our work will put people’s minds at ease,” Buys said. For community groups wanting to have someone provide this service, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-325-3060.
Learn more about the Delta Health Alliance Mississippi RIVER Project at https://www.getyourshotms.org/.
Read about MSU’s COVID-19 health and safety information and resources at https://www.msstate.edu/covid19.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.