FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is partnering with Palace Drug, to offer COVID-19 vaccines to the public at no cost at the Izard County Pioneer Days.

The May 7 offering is part of a statewide initiative to increase vaccination rates in rural communities in Arkansas.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, only about 43% of Izard County’s population is fully immunized against COVID-19. 69 people have died of COVID-19 in Izard County since the pandemic started.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is available to anyone five years of age and older, and the Moderna shots are available to anyone 18 and older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a first booster shot for people 12 and older five months after their initial series of vaccines and a second one at least four months later for individuals 50 and older or those who are moderately or severely immunocompromised.

Vaccines and booster shots are available to the public at no cost. Transportation to the mobile vaccine clinic is available through United Way/211. For more information or to schedule your ride, visit 211.org or call 211.

“We hope we’re nearing the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we know there’s more to do so we can protect all Arkansans from becoming seriously ill with the coronavirus,” said Stephanie Kruger, associate director of Community Programs in the UAMS Office of Community Health & Research. “If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, need a booster, or just have questions about the vaccine, we encourage you to come out and see us at the Izard County Pioneer Days. We’re not just here to provide vaccines — we want to reach out to the Izard County community and answer questions so you can make an informed decision about your health care.”

UAMS notes that the vaccines have been proven to significantly lessen symptoms of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 11,000 people in Arkansas since 2020. While the number of cases in Arkansas continues to decline, protection against the virus is encouraged by medical officials to avoid serious illness or death, the health center says.

For more information about COVID-19, including resources, mobile vaccine events and education, visit nwa.uams.edu/covid.