Vaccinate the Natural State, a new initiative led by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield in collaboration with the Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, Arkansas Minority Health Commission, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas Council, UAMS and Walmart, was announced today. The statewide initiative will educate Arkansans about the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine and encourage individuals to get the vaccine as soon as possible – by doing so they will be taking a critical step toward helping end the pandemic.

“The health of our communities relies on every eligible Arkansan getting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available to them,” said Curtis Barnett, president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Blue Cross. “Vaccinations offer our best path for eliminating the virus, ending the suffering, and starting the process of returning our lives back to some sense of normal. The organizations that have come together to fuel this movement represent best-of-class knowledge coupled with connected networks that can ensure the word gets out that Vaccinate the Natural State can be life-changing for all of us.”

“Vaccinate the Natural State will address the misinformation that has left many hesitant, or unsure how or when they can be vaccinated,” said Jennifer Dillaha, M.D., state epidemiologist for Arkansas, Arkansas Department of Health. “We want Arkansans to understand that the vaccine is the safest, most effective way to protect themselves and their communities. We are appreciative that Arkansas Blue Cross stepped forward to help the state during the earliest rounds of the vaccinations and now has convened these organizations to create a movement that will have a lasting effect on our state.”

Vaccinate the Natural State is a combined effort from a diverse set of organizations across every corner of the state – working to encourage all Arkansans to get the COVID-19 vaccine and help end the pandemic.

The campaign, which launches in mid-March, will have two primary focuses: business-to-business engagement and hyper-local community engagement.

“AFMC is proud to once again partner with Arkansas Blue Cross and the Arkansas State Chamber,” added Ray Hanley, president and CEO, Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care (AFMC). “AFMC supports the Arkansas Department of Health and their vaccination efforts across the state. AFMC is the state’s designated quality improvement organization and we will work to promote and educate Arkansans on the importance of this vaccine.”

To support Arkansas’ business community, Arkansas Blue Cross is partnering with the Arkansas State Chamber and AFMC to provide objective information and educational resources, video modules, communication toolkits, and outreach to help guide businesses through the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine. Through this effort, business owners and leaders will be equipped to confidently lead their organizations as more COVID-19 vaccines are made available and be armed with the knowledge to guide their employees through the vaccination process and getting employees back to work.

“As we’ve done with many critical issues, our role will be to mobilize and educate local chambers of commerce across the state and help them reach out to the businesses and industries in their hometowns,” said Randy Zook, president and CEO, Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. “All of the chambers across Arkansas will be asking businesses to join the movement through the ‘Power Over Pandemic Pledge.’”

Through the Power Over Pandemic Pledge, business leaders commit to their organizations joining the Vaccinate the Natural State movement. The pledge reads:

As an Arkansas employer and business leader, I commit to helping fight COVID-19 and will do my part to end the pandemic. I pledge to:

  • Lead by example by receiving the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as I am able,
  • Strongly encourage all medically eligible employees and others in my organization to receive a COVID-19 vaccine,
  • Provide the resources my associates need to make an informed decision in favor of being vaccinated, and
  • Make receiving a vaccine as easy as possible for those in my organization.

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

To learn more about the Vaccinate the Natural State movement, visit VaccinateTheNaturalState.com.