Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M. (R-OH) sent a bipartisan letter to COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients and Acting U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Norris Cochran urging them to ensure rural communities are not left behind in the federal COVID-19 vaccine information campaign.
To help address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, the Department of Health and Human Services launched the COVID-19 Public Education Campaign to provide fact-based information about the vaccines and encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they are able. However, lack of access to broadband services complicates efforts to spread this message to people living in our rural communities. Even some radio advertisements don’t always reach rural areas as more than 20% of all Americans live in non-metropolitan radio markets. It’s critical that all Wisconsinites have access to information showing the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, regardless of where they live. That’s why the campaign must include local broadcasters in small radio markets to make sure our rural communities aren’t left behind.
“As vaccines continue to roll out, we need to ensure that Wisconsinites are receiving accurate information about how to get vaccinated safely. Rural communities are often harder to reach but small, local broadcasters can play a key role in helping get information out. That’s why I’m urging the Department of Health and Human Services to include local broadcasters in small radio markets in their efforts to share information around these vaccines. This will ensure our rural communities aren’t left behind,” said Rep. Ron Kind. “Everyone should get their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they can, so that we can get back to our Wisconsin way of life.”
“In less than a year, we’ve developed multiple COVID-19 vaccines faster than most expected. However, there are still many Americans who are unsure of or unwilling to receive the vaccine – in many cases because they’ve been given poor information about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. I’m proud to join this bipartisan effort to ensure rural Americans – who may have limited access to broadband services – are provided science-based information about vaccines to help their decision-making,” said Rep. Brad Wenstrup, D.P.M.
At each step of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Rep. Kind has fought to ensure our rural communities are not forgotten. In December 2020 as the first COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Wisconsin, Rep. Kind urged Operation Warp Speed leadership to consider the unique challenges of vaccine distribution to rural areas across the state and to take steps to support timely and equitable vaccine access for rural communities.
Read the bipartisan letter here.