Organization working to vaccinate more Latinos in California's farmworker communities

FRESNO, Calif. -- They're a critical link in the food chain, bringing Central California's bounty to tables nationwide. Yet, the agricultural worker community is easily the most at risk when it comes to COVID-19.

"Latinos are most likely to get COVID and die from it, so we know the risk is very high and we know many of our Latinos are essential workers," says Latino Community Foundation Program Manager Adriana Saldivar.

Saldivar says the foundation is working with other organizations, including the California Farmworker Association, to increase the Latino vaccination rate in farmworker communities statewide.

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Farmworkers are among the most vulnerable populations because they work in close proximity to each other and go home often to multi-generational households.

"We want to make sure it gets to them and that it's available and accessible in the Valley," she said.

They've reached out to county leaders to bring vaccines to farm worksites.

"We want them, when it comes to vaccine allocations and equity target, to take into consideration the individuals that never stopped working during this pandemic," says Hernan Herndez with the California Farmworker Foundation.

Accessibility and supply only make up half the battle. Fears and uncertainty surrounding testing and vaccinations are creating an additional barrier.
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Advocates are lobbying for California's 800,000 farmworkers to have high-priority in receiving the coronavirus vaccine.

"When we first started testing, the questions were so profound and so invasive to the point that a lot of farmworkers didn't want to partake in it and we're seeing that today with the COVID-19 vaccine," Herndez said.

Latinos make up less than 40% of California's population but account for 55% of the state's COVID-19 cases.

Fresno County has developed a pilot vaccination program that they say is well-received thanks to business, clinical and community partners, including the Latino Community Foundation.

With roughly 70-90,000 agricultural workers in Fresno County, the health department plans to build on that distribution system.

For more information, visit the Latino Community Foundation's website.

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