FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A report by UAMS researchers revealed that citizens in some minority and underserved communities were more open to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at their church than in a medical setting.

A recent study, published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, compared vaccine acceptance among various population groups at both outpatient clinics and faith-based organizations. According to that study, both Hispanic and Marshallese communities in Arkansas were more willing to get vaccinated at faith-based organizations than at outpatient clinics.

“These findings suggest that collaborations between health care providers and faith-based institutions can increase vaccination among communities who may otherwise be hesitant,” said Pearl McElfish, Ph.D., division director of the UAMS Office of Community Health & Research. “This information can help guide public health efforts to help those communities become better protected against various illnesses, including COVID-19 and the flu.”

The study also found that participants who received their vaccines at a faith-based organization were also more likely to trust the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine while having lower health literacy levels than outpatient clinic participants.

There have been more than one million deaths related to COVID-19 in the United States, according to the World Health Organization. Over 12,800 Arkansans have died from the virus, according to the Arkansas Department of Health, which also reported that 71.4% of Arkansans who died of COVID-19 since February 2021 were not fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved bivalent booster shots for both Pfizer and Moderna, which target new Omicron variants of the coronavirus. The Pfizer booster is authorized for ages five and up, while the Moderna booster is authorized for ages six and up.