UPSTATE, S.C. (WSPA) – State health leaders are planning to invest millions of dollars into community outreach focused on educating residents about COVID-19 vaccine.

After months of outreach efforts by vaccine advocates and health leaders across the state, South Carolina still has yet to reach herd immunity. But officials at The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) plan to fight back against misinformation and low vaccine numbers by investing in vaccine education efforts.

Health leaders at DHEC want local, trusted organizations to flood communities with COVID-19 vaccine awareness about the ‘effectiveness, safety and benefits’ of the cCOVID-19 vaccine in an effort to get more people vaccinated.

Leaders plan to invest 5 million dollars in grants into up to 25 organizations across the state to mobilize and spread vaccine facts.

The money will come from funds DHEC received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services(DHHS) and recipients will have the option to renew funding for up to three times for a total period of two years.

Officials expect to fund six months worth of grassroots and community outreach efforts.

“South Carolina is taking advantage of this federal funding to help ensure people in rural areas and minority or vulnerable communities receive the information they need to make informed decisions about vaccines from people they know and trust. Information sharing is more important than ever since South Carolina, and several other states, are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations,” Dr. Brannon Traxler, Public Health Director at DHEC, said.

Officials said none of the outreach initiatives will include door-to-door contact with residents, but said they can expect to possibly get direct mail with vaccine information or see more signs lining the roads while driving.

Local health officials said access to factual information and resources is important especially with the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

It’s always hard to get accurate information out and it has been from the beginning. So many people are talking about it— which is a great thing, but that does lead potentially to misinformation getting out there. We want to enlist more providers in that fight to get the good information out,” Nick Davidson, senior deputy for public health at DHEC, said.

The application for organizations looking to be a part of these outreach efforts is now open until August 5th. Davidson said organizations with connections in their community and a history of grassroots efforts should apply. Click here to view the application.