DHS announces funding for community-based flu vaccine education campaigns

MADISON, Wis. — As flu season approaches in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, state health officials are urging the public to get vaccinated.

Thanks to a new funding program announced Tuesday by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, local community organizations can now apply for grants to support their efforts to encourage Wisconsinites to get this year’s flu vaccine.

According to DHS statistics, only 42% of Wisconsinites got at least one dose of the flue vaccine last year. The new funding campaign was established to help promote vaccinations throughout the state, and especially among groups that have been marginalized or under-served by health care and public health systems, according to a news release.

“Given the current pandemic’s impact on human life and health care resources, we need to protect ourselves and our communities from the flu by getting vaccinated,” Interim State Health Officer Stephanie Smiley said. “Getting vaccinated against flu by Halloween is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against flu viruses. This is why we are supporting our local partners with messaging and education that resonates with local communities and responds to their unique needs.”

The $950,000 grant is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In total, up to 10 community organizations could receive funding to support their messaging campaigns. Organizations can receive up to $200,000 based on what kind of outreach and education the group plans on doing.

Flu-related messaging should focus on improving public knowledge about the importance of vaccinations; where to get flu vaccines, especially for uninsured or under-insured people; and dispelling myths about vaccines and the flu.

Grant applications are due by 4 p.m. on Sept. 28. Any organizations interested in applying can visit DHS’s website.