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Business leaders take vital role in vaccination process

March 29, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

Special to The Sentinel-Record

LITTLE ROCK -- Ending the pandemic depends on as many Arkansans receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as possible -- and Arkansas businesses will play a major role in helping that happen, according to a news release from Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

VaccinateArkansas.com is a business-to-business website offered through a partnership with the Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas, the Northwest Arkansas Council and Walmart, and a major focus of the Vaccinate the Natural State initiative, which kicked off Feb. 22.

"Arkansas' business leaders play a vital role providing COVID-19 vaccine information to their employees," Curtis Barnett, president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, said in the release. "Through these resources, we want to empower employers to provide accurate and helpful information while encouraging their workforces to get the vaccine. Business-to-Business engagement is a primary focus for the Vaccinate the Natural State initiative, and our statewide communities will benefit when Arkansas businesses chose to take action in the fight against COVID-19."

The goal of VaccinateArkansas.com is to empower business leaders to encourage employees to be vaccinated, aiding in protecting Arkansas workforces from COVID-19 and further protecting communities, the economy and the state. To best support Arkansas' businesses, the site provides objective information and educational resources such as video modules, communication tool kits, and outreach to help guide businesses in communications as more COVID-19 vaccines are made available. The initiative was specifically designed to arm employers with the knowledge to guide their employees through the vaccination process and the operations of getting employees back to work.

"As the state's designated quality improvement organization, we are proud to partner with organizations who share our commitment to a healthy Arkansas and to offer these critical resources to Arkansas businesses," Ray Hanley, AFMC president and CEO, said in the release.

"Local businesses are key in educating their community members on the importance of this vaccine for a safer tomorrow. In providing accurate information and ready-to-go resources, a large number of businesses in our state will be able to confidently and easily inform employees on the importance of receiving the vaccine."

Other resources on the site include video guides, printable materials, vaccine news, trusted resource links, a social media tool kit, and answers to frequently asked questions. Topics include tips for internal communications to employees, expert information and advice on vaccine safety, and legal rights and responsibilities for employers.

"These resources will help employers navigate internal communications with employees who may be hesitant or have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine," Ryan Cork, executive director of the Northwest Arkansas Council Health Care Transformation Division, said in the release.

"Businesses now have access to valuable resources that will help Arkansans understand the benefits of the vaccine and encourage them to make the choice to protect themselves, their co-workers and their communities."

The site also hosts the Power Over Pandemic Pledge, where business leaders can commit to their organizations joining the Vaccinate the Natural State movement. The pledge states:

As an Arkansas employer and business leader, our company is committed to helping fight COVID-19 and will do our part to end the pandemic. We pledge to:

Lead by example by receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as we are able, and encourage all employees to do the same

Strongly encourage all medically eligible employees and others in our organization to receive a COVID-19 vaccine

Provide the resources our employees need to make an informed decision in favor of being vaccinated, and

Make receiving a vaccine as easy as possible for those in our organization.

We are all in this together and we must all work together to help end the pandemic.

"We know that nearly all employees consider their employer a trusted source of information," Randy Zook, president and CEO, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, said in the release.

"The more education that can be brought to our workers, the faster our communities and our economy can emerge from the pandemic."

Walmart has also committed to supporting the business engagement efforts and resources of Vaccinate the Natural State.

"We are dedicated to helping the state of Arkansas be informed and educated about the vaccine," Gerard Dehrmann, senior vice president of Public Affairs and State and Local Government Relations, Walmart, said in the release. "As a business who calls Arkansas home, we want to urge fellow business leaders to take advantage of these resources and join the fight against COVID-19."

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