Hundreds of food-based street vendors receive COVID-19 vaccine in South Los Angeles

Mother-and-daughter, Ines and Irene are food street vendors who, despite the risk of COVID-19, have had no choice but to leave home for work over the last year.

"I have been afraid to go to work, to get infected by other people," said Ines who's also diabetic, and therefore more at-risk of becoming severely sick with the virus.

"We'll keep protecting ourselves with face coverings and physical distancing, but now more peace of mind to know we're a little more protected," said her daughter, Irene.

They were two of hundreds of food-based street vendors who received the COVID-19 vaccine at McCarty Memorial Christian Church in South Los Angeles Monday.

"There's been a dire need for vaccines in our community, especially for street vendors. They have been really vulnerable during this pandemic," Rudy Espinoza, executive director of Inclusive Action.



The vaccination event was a collaboration between local leaders, the L.A.Street Vendors Campaign and the church.

Pastor Eddie Anderson described it as an expression of solidarity.

"During the pandemic we saw a lot of people of color have solidarity in the marches. So, this is also part of solidarity, to make sure everyone is healthy," said Anderson.

"They interact with people on the side of the street," he added. "Some people are wearing masks. Some are not. And then they go back home, right? This is their livelihood."

One woman described her painful COVID-19 experience just two months ago, saying she lost her energy, sense of smell, taste and more.

"I felt wounds all over my tongue. I was just waiting for the moment God would say 'enough.' But thanks to him, he gave me another opportunity to go on, and to receive this blessed vaccine," she said.

She urged people to get the vaccine. Hearing that message in one's native language holds weight. She delivered it in Zapotec, an indigenous tongue many immigrants from Oaxaca, Mexico speak here in Los Angeles.

"To come and get vaccinated so they can move forward, and also having the vaccine, you can be more safe when you go to your family, more safe at work," she interpreted in Spanish. "Because we don't know what people we'll encounter at any moment."

Providing access to the vaccine is part of the Inclusive Action's effort to support street vendors through the L.A. Street Vendor's Campaign, said Espinoza. They've also raised almost more than $500,000 through a pandemic relief fund.

"Right now, the city council is reviewing a moratorium on enforcement to give our vendors an opportunity to get their permits, we think that these are, these are all connected to the suite of programs and support the street vendors need today," he said.
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