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Arkansas group begins vaccine outreach efforts for local communities

The Arkansas Community Institute is calling those in the community to encourage people to get the shot, especially in areas with low vaccination rates.

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — There's still a big push to get more people vaccinated in our state, but hesitancy to get the shot is still an issue. 

The Arkansas Community Institute, a local organization, is working to help change that. They're specifically working to help fight the hesitancy in southeast Arkansas due to lower vaccination rates in the area. 

Many health officials have voiced that the only way to get people, who have yet to receive the shot, to get vaccinated is to go to them directly. 

Well, that's exactly what this group is trying to do.

State senators, community members, and leaders with the Arkansas Community Institute came together on Wednesday with one message and one mission.

"If you haven't been vaccinated, please go and get your vaccine shot," Rosetta Madison said. 

In front of Pine Bluff City Hall, the group talked openly about their own hesitations when it came to getting the vaccine. 

It's a feeling Madison experienced for many months. 

"I really didn't understand it because media was saying this, this doctor was saying that, and this doctor was saying another, but I knew I needed it," she said.

After Madison realized she couldn't see her family members without the vaccine, she changed her mind.

"I knew it was time for me to make the move, so I made the move," she said.

The Arkansas Community Organization began calling and canvassing a month ago, according to community organizer Demetrius Melvin. They knew there were many more people who were still feeling hesitant.

"We just want to make certain that we are doing our part to make certain that we can encourage people to get vaccinated, so that this situation with this COVID can be curbed and possibly get out of here," he said.

Melvin said volunteers ask people if they've been vaccinated. If not, they inquire about what's keeping them from getting the shot. 

If those people say they might get it in the future, the volunteers call back later to see if they've had a change of heart.

"We do a follow-up with those individuals to check to see if they will be getting vaccinated and we also let them know about the different locations where the vaccinations are," he said.

Melvin hopes they can convince more people to get protected by specifically targeting communities where there are low vaccination rates.

"We want to see the country heal from the spread of COVID," he said.

If you want to help out, the group is always looking for more volunteers. 

You can call 870-536-6300 and ask for Demetrius Melvin.