University of Idaho Extension has identified Health and Wellness as a Priority Extension Theme, within which this project is supported. Research shows that vulnerable populations in our rural Idaho communities are struggling due to insufficient access to services and a lack of reliable, evidence-based information. Our team is dedicated to continuing the long-held mission of Extension to be trusted messengers that connect our friends and neighbors to needed resources. In addition to honoring that tradition, we also look forward in our work to address health inequity. To learn more about cooperative Extension’s guiding framework on addressing health equity in our rural communities, view 2021 National Framework for Health Equity and Wellbeing (pdf).
South central and southwest Idaho have many small, rural communities with limited access to health care. These regions are also highly concentrated with the majority of Idaho’s agricultural workers. Agriculture employs more Hispanics than any other industry in Idaho; migrant and seasonal farmworkers made up 38% of all hired Idaho agricultural workers statewide in 2017. Many of these farmworkers are monolingual Spanish-speakers and a large percentage of this community is uninsured. The COVID-19 pandemic posed greater risk to agricultural workers. Idaho’s data shows that over 16% of the coronavirus cases identify as Hispanic, compared to only 13% of Idaho’s population being Hispanic. Hispanic Idahoans are also receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at lower rates than non-Hispanic. As of Oct. 21, 2021 only 11% of Idaho’s vaccinated population identify as Hispanic. It is important to note there is limited data for Hispanic/Latinx vaccination rates, especially specific to county. Even though the COVID-19 vaccine is free, the agricultural, rural and Hispanic communities are experiencing greater fear of receiving the vaccine and more barriers to access. Conversations with various vaccine providers in Idaho suggest that these fears stem from lack of education surrounding the vaccine, fear of providing personal information to health care workers, fear of any potential costs, as well as barriers in reading, writing and lack of reliable information and access to vaccine sites.
These EXCITE projects address the gaps in education in multiple ways: by assisting vaccine providers with outreach, education, and bilingual resources; and responding to the need for genuine, supportive, one-on-one communication and reliable resources for those in underserved populations who remain hesitant to get vaccinated.
Priority counties included in EXCITE projects: Bingham, Canyon, Cassia, Elmore, Gem, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka, Owyhee, Payette, Twin Falls and Washington.