Efforts to vaccinate California’s farmworkers against COVID-19 continue to expand in the state, Border Report said. In San Diego County, strawberry field laborers were the first farmworkers in the region to get their first dose, thanks to mobile clinics that are going to straight to workers. It’s an effort being seen in agricultural areas all over the state.
“I know what they mean not only to our economy but to our culture,” San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said in the report. “These are folks for whom getting a smartphone to fight for an appointment to one of our supercenters may not be a reality, and so, we wanted to intentionally and consciously go to the fields.”
The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that over 1,000 farmworkers in Santa Clara County were on track to receive their first dose following mobile clinics in that region. Those efforts were collaborations between United Farm Workers (UFW), UFW Foundation, and local employers and the county. Fletcher said in a video that on the first day vaccines were available to workers in San Diego County, it was “important that we be in the fields.”
“Farmworkers should be prioritized because we are the one’s who produce the food,” one farmworker said in a video shared by UFW. “If we don’t get vaccinated and we get infected there can be serious consequences.” The organization has steadily continued to share videos of other farmworkers receiving their vaccine, as well as sharing videos of their truly skilled labor.
The U.S. House is expected to vote next week on legislation to permanently protect undocumented farmworkers. The chamber passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act by a wide 260 to 165 margin last year, but it was stalled by Senate Republicans. It was the first time the House had passed such protections in many years. The moral imperative to protect farmworkers has only grown since the pandemic.
UFW Foundation said in a statement that it is continuing efforts to vaccinate farmworkers with a new clinic that’s set to run over six weekends at the “40 Acres” property near Delano. “Farm workers have turned to the Forty Acres with their problems since the 1960s,” the statement said. “The 40-acre site includes the spacious Reuther Hall where vaccination personnel will set up shop. Workers and other Latinos have regularly visited the Forty Acres during the pandemic for the distribution of large quantities of emergency food and face masks.”