Kent: $3 million health literacy grant to tackle Delta variant spread
Published 4:27 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2021
The COVID-19 Delta variant is surging and the number of cases in Mississippi and Warren County is escalating, and with only 33 percent of people fully vaccinated in the state — 38 percent in Warren County — the risk of infection will continue to grow.
For that reason, health experts say it is imperative for people to get vaccinated, not only to stop the spread but also to save lives.
In an effort to educate and inform people about the vaccine, a $3 million Health Literacy Grant acquired from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health was awarded to the city of Vicksburg.
Felicia Whittington Kent, who was named the project director for the $3 million grant by Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. last week, said she will begin creating a health and literacy plan that will aid in “getting the message out” and looking for ways to combat the vaccine hesitancy.
“Our goal is to get where the people are and to reach them where they are,” she said.
Kent, who served as the director of revenue cycle management at Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center before being named as the grant director, said this will include a series of “major” campaigns, rallies, and health education events in addition to having individuals working in the local community as well as with partners in the Vicksburg area.
“They will be reaching out to faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, barbershops, hair salons, grocery stores, other health care providers in the area as well as lay individuals who are retired,” Kent said. “We have got to be able to be there in our community and to empower those individuals as it relates to understanding and for us to reduce as much as possible the misinformation that is out in our community. The misinformation is causing people to suffer unnecessarily as it relates to COVID.”
Programming from the grant, Kent said, should be rolling out by Aug. 1.
“I am confident we are going to do an outstanding job and create a model so other cities can follow,” Kent said.
The grant is a two-year initiative designed to advance health literacy and enhance equitable community responses to COVID-19 while identifying and implementing best practices for improving health literacy in Vicksburg.
The initiative is a partnership with Jackson State University, Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center and the city of Vicksburg.
“Jackson-Hinds is responsible for the program implementation aspect and JSU will serve as our evaluating team on the project,” Kent said.