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DES MOINES, Iowa– While many Iowans wait to be vaccinated a local telehealth company is ensuring that those in underserved communities get a place in line. 

The first doses of the vaccine have been dedicated to frontline workers and nursing home residents. However, Certinell Telehealth is educating patients with chronic illnesses about the importance of being vaccinated. 

“It all starts with education, you know, being there, understanding their concerns, not getting on them too hard about it but saying hey we get it, we understand,” CEO OF Certintell, Benjamin Lefever said. 

“But here’s the data, here’s the importance of getting vaccinated, particularly with patients that we serve that are at higher risk for mortality if they do get infected with COVID-19.”

According to the CDC, telehealth visits have increased by 154% during the pandemic.

Lefever said his company has been strategizing how to serve more people in low income and rural areas with vaccine distribution. 

In preparation, Certintell has recently joined the Association for Community Affiliated Plans which represents 78 health plan members and over 20 million in medicaid, medicare, and other public programs. 

The U.S is over seven weeks into vaccine rollout and Black Americans are receiving doses at dramatically low rates.

In fact, according to the Department of Public Health only one percent of Black Iowans have received the vaccine. 

Although this is hugely due to the amount of vaccines the state has been given, Lefever said it’s also attributed to the historic mistrust many people of color have with vaccinations.  

Lefever said Certintell is working to build relationships in the community, so patients know this telehealth service wants the best for their health.

That’s a core focus and foundation of healthcare as a whole to really connect with patients to one, help them self manage do better with overall health and again once we do that patients are more likely to trust when you recommend the importance of getting a vaccine,” Lefever said.