HUNTSVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences announced Tuesday it will offer COVID-19 vaccines to the public at no cost at the Madison County Library in Huntsville this summer.

The partnership between UAMS and the library comes as part of a statewide initiative to increase vaccination rates in rural communities in Arkansas.

UAMS says vaccines will be provided from 1-4 p.m. at the library on June 14 and 28, and July 5 and 19. They are available at no cost to the public. UAMS also announced patients who receive their COVID-19 vaccine at one of the events and take a short survey after will receive a $20 Walmart gift card.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, about 48% of Madison County’s population is fully immunized against COVID-19, and 63 people have died of COVID-19 in Madison County since the pandemic started.

“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 Madison County Library in Huntsville. We’re not just here to provide vaccines — we want to reach out to the Madison County community and answer questions so you can make an informed decision about your health care.”

The health system also notes vaccines have been proven to significantly lessen symptoms of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 11,500 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.

COVID-19 vaccines are available to anyone 5 years of age and older. The Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots are available to anyone 5 years and older, and the Moderna shots are available to anyone 18 and older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends booster shots for persons five months after their initial series of vaccines.

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