Kern County organizations race to vaccinate ag workers, overcome initial hesitancy

73 percent say they want the vaccine
Vaccinating Farmworkers
Posted at 11:07 AM, Mar 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-31 14:26:54-04

DELANO, Calif. (KERO) — Access to vaccines has been at the forefront of the Biden Administration and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden is coming to the Central Valley at a time when there's really a push to get farmworkers vaccinated.

When the COVID-19 vaccine was first made available to ag workers there was some initial hesitancy but a spokesperson with the United Farm Workers Foundation says there's been a shift over the last few weeks.

According to a UFW Foundation survey of more than 10,000 farmworkers, 73 percent say they want the vaccine as soon as possible.

There are a few reasons why more ag workers are getting their shots but it really boils down to a targetted approach. Phone lines have been set up in a few different languages because not all farmworkers can access the government's My Turn website. And making sure people know they don't have to show proof of their immigration status. The UFW estimates half of the ag workers are undocumented.

Vaccination clinics are also being held here on weekends here at Forty Acres, a place that people are familiar with.

"It was a place that people have come to for many years. They're familiar. They're comfortable with us and any concerns," explained Paul Chavez, son of Cesar Chavez. "We believe it helped a lot of people step forward and begin the vaccination process."

The state has redistributed 34,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to food and ag workers in the Central Valley.

It's hard to get a sense of how many workers have been vaccinated because the state doesn't track doses by profession.

According to the United Farm Workers Foundation, more than 5,000 ag workers have been vaccinated over the last few days but there are roughly 800,000 in the state.