UK HealthCare

Appalachian Community Health Days to Increase COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts in 32-County Region

Appalachian Community Health Days graphic
A new $3.3 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources Services Administration aims to help improve COVID-19 vaccination rates in 32 counties of Appalachia through a series of Community Health Days.

HAZARD, Ky. (Aug. 3, 2021) The University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health (UK CERH), Kentucky Homeplace, USA Drone Port and a network of community partners are joining forces to intensify efforts at the local level to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates in a 32-county region of Appalachia Kentucky and neighboring counties in West Virginia, with $3.3 million in grant funding from the U.S. Health Resources Services Administration.

“This grant will enable us to go to where people need us most,” said Fran Feltner, DNP, director of the UK CERH and principal investigator of Kentucky Homeplace. “Leveraging the expertise of community health workers and our many valued community partners, our intent is to meet people where they are to work through barriers, alleviate fears, dispel myths, educate and assess any needs people may have that could be holding them back from being vaccinated.”

The goal is to improve COVID-19 vaccination rates in Appalachian communities by:

  • increasing community outreach in remote communities.
  • removing barriers to vaccine access.
  • assessing needs of individuals.
  • providing education.
  • increasing positive messaging.

A series of more than 90 Community Health Days will be held across the region beginning in August and continuing through November. Planning for these activities will focus on removing as many barriers as possible and reaching as many of the population as possible in a short period of time.

There will be various opportunities for local organizations to be involved including a creative competition for cash awards for best video campaigns that help increase community knowledge and positive messaging.

The Community Health Days calendar of events can be found at  

The mission of the University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health (UK CERH) is to improve the health and well-being of rural Kentuckians with a vision of a healthier Kentucky. 

Increasing the COVID-19 Vaccination Rates in Rural Appalachia Kentucky is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $3,380,780 with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.