Kern County has partnered with a number of organizations to deploy two mobile units to vaccinate agricultural workers, County officials said at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
Beginning as soon as Friday, Kern Medical will deploy it’s first mobile unit to Johnson Farms and administer a couple hundred doses of the vaccine to farmworkers, according to Jim Zervis, Kern County’s Chief Operations Officer.
The efforts will continue through the weekend, as Kern Medical staff will vaccinate 1,000 agriculture workers at Forty Acres in Delano. This effort is being coordinated with the UFW Foundation, the Cesar Chavez Foundation, the United Farm Workers, Kern County Latino COVID-19 Task Force, the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m strongly in favor of this item,” said Supervisor Leticia Perez. “I’m very grateful and hopeful about this effort.”
Thousands more farm workers from throughout the Central Valley will have the chance to become vaccinated through this partnership. Vaccination clinics will operate over six weekends in March and April at the Forty Acres.
Event partners are encouraging farm workers to call the bilingual toll free call centers of UFW Foundation (661-501-4280) and the Latino COVID-19 Task Force’s Project Abuelita (661-525-5900) for appointments to get their vaccines.
Vaccinations are open to all farm workers 18 years and older at no charge. No health insurance is required. No doctor’s note or order is needed.
The County and its partners have taken barriers agricultural workers face into consideration when coordinating these efforts, Zervis said. According to Zervis, barriers include lack of availability due to work hours and transportation issues.
Because of these barriers, the vaccination efforts for agricultural workers are scheduled to operate during non-standard business hours, and Kern Medical will also go to, in some cases, to the workers at their workplace.
As of Tuesday, Kern County has received 188,295 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and administered 158,023 to Kern County residents, making up 5.2 percent of Kern’s population, according to Brynn Carrigan, the Director of the Kern County Public Health Department.
Based on the allotments of vaccines sent to Kern, it will take 40 weeks to vaccinate all eligible groups in Kern County, according to Carrigan.
Carrigan said, “But it our vaccine allotments continue to increase at the pace it has been, that will of course be expedited.”