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As vaccines become more available, community officials continue their outreach

"We all want our lives back."
Posted at 11:25 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 12:19:21-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — As vaccine availability increases, community officials continue their outreach efforts throughout the county, whether that's financially, through education, or through means of transportation to a vaccination site, whatever those needs may be, big or small, they want to help through these trying times.

“We can go out and take a grassroots approach, but until our municipalities recognize us and understand we need funding as well, it's just going to be up to us.”

Nick Hill the president and CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce says that while the county has helped this past year in some ways when it comes to slowing the spread of COVID-19, he would like to see more being done for the African American communities.

“We're being affected 6 to 1, it's a 6 to 1 ratio”

As of Sunday, according to the state public health department's website, more than 10.5 million vaccines have been administered (10,512,860) with 158,023 of those administered here in Kern County.

Statewide numbers show, more than 32% of those vaccines were administered to white people, 17% Latino, 12% were Asian American, and just under 3% were black.

Hill says that they would like to do more to help these numbers grow and looks at one group as motivation.

“It's education and outreach, both those things are lacking in the African American community, however, the one bright spot is the Latino taskforce.”

Hill says the Latino COVID Task Force and their co-founder Jay Tamsi have helped with testing and other concerns, and not just with the Latino communities.

“We saw those numbers rising here in Kern, we saw them nationwide, we had to do something about it, and so, we rolled up our sleeves.”

With the latest updated numbers showing that Latinos have the highest death rates in the county, Tamsi acted quickly, which is why the task force started project Abuelita, a hotline for COVID-19 questions to help non-English speakers and disabled residents.

“Our operators are scheduling them to areas of Kern County to get tested, and as well as transportation to get there because that's a really big deal as well.”

While the process has been frustrating at times, he praises the county for working with his task force and bringing some vaccination sites to farmworkers in the near future, he says this is a step in the right direction.

“We all want our lives back, we want to see our grandparents and our families, and I think that this vaccine brings hope."