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National Rural Health Day: Celebrating EXCITE

Nifa Authors
Rachel Dotson, Public Affairs Specialist (Social Media)

Through an interagency agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Cooperative Extension units at Land-grant Universities across the nation received funding and launched the Cooperative Extension Immunization Teaching and Engagement (EXCITE) in June 2021 to address health disparities among rural and other underserved communities.

At the end of year two of the EXCITE initiative, 19,586,347 contacts have been reached through 178,228 engagement activities, according the EXCITE annual report. Engagement activities consisted of in-person events, print media, social media, vaccination clinics, virtual events, etc. During that time, funded projects reported hosting 1,024 vaccination clinics and 26,023 immunization shots were given. 

In summer 2023, Cooperative Extension was given the opportunity to continue immunization education work through EXCITE. This effort builds on the success since 2021 including the EXCITE Vaccinate with Confidence Communication Campaign and competitively selected EXCITE Pilot Projects. For the new Implementation Phase, 33 projects from 37 institutions have been awarded, including five institutions that are new to EXCITE. Read more about the funding here. 

Ongoing EXCITE Project Examples

A Washington State University (WSU) research team has received an EXCITE grant to continue a project to improve vaccine science education, especially within rural communities. The project includes an online toolkit developed by WSU that is currently in use by Extension professionals across the nation. 

During the project’s first phase, WSU researchers from Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, College of Education and Extension developed a toolkit and content that empowers Extension professionals nationwide to effectively connect with residents. With the additional 18 months of EXCITE funding for the second phase, the team will test the toolkit’s effectiveness and refine the messaging.

Mississippi adults will continue to be offered science-based vaccine information by the Mississippi State University Extension Service with help from a national grant.

The project’s goal is to improve access to and acceptance of immunizations among rural adult populations. The team is working to build partnerships with pharmacies and churches to reach older adults with information about recommended vaccines. All adult immunizations will be covered, with special emphasis on vaccines for pneumococcal disease, shingles, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

Through strategic partnerships, the project aims to instill greater confidence in Land-grant Universities to provide effective immunization education.

An assistant professor of Kinesiology and Health Science and Utah State University Health and Wellness Extension specialist will continue developing immunization education and outreach in rural communities in northeastern Utah through a project called the TriCounty Vaccine Improvement Program. Through education, outreach and training, the project aims to increase confidence in vaccines among adults in rural and other underserved communities in a tri-county area.

For more examples of the important work of the EXCITE program, listen to the EXCITE podcast

Farm Bill Priority Areas
Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health
Agriculture economics and rural communities
U.S. States and Territories

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