Land that was once used nearly 60 years ago to address farm workers’ needs was used again this weekend to bring critical health services to Central Valley farm workers.
More than 1,000 COVID-19 vaccines were administered to farm workers over the weekend at the historic Forty Acres in Delano. The mass vaccination event was put on through a partnership between the County of Kern, UFW Foundation, UFW, the Cesar Chavez Foundation, Kern Medical and the Kern County Latino COVID-19 Task Force.
“The idea behind Forty Acres was to address the needs of the farm working community,” said Andres Chavez, Director of Strategic Initiatives with the Cesar Chavez Foundation. “Since 1966, this location has met the needs of farm workers and fast forward to 2021, when we are in the midst of a global crisis, the farmworker organizations have stepped up to once again address the needs of the people.”
The organizations focused on vaccinating farm workers because they have been one of the hardest-hit groups, Chavez said. Not only are farm workers at higher risk of exposure due to the nature of their job, but they also have a tougher time finding time to get vaccinated, as Sunday is the only day off for many.
A survey conducted by the UFW Foundation found 48 percent of farm workers who had taken a COVID-19 test tested positive for COVID-19. The survey also found that 73 percent of agriculture workers expressed willingness to receive the COVID-19 Vaccine.
Farm workers from Taft, Tulare, Shafter and many other places drove to Delano to receive a vaccine.
“That points to a bigger issue of what’s going on in those cities where they can’t access or visit their providers,” said Delano Mayor Bryan Osorio, who volunteered that the vaccination event. “Farm workers have been eligible for a few weeks, and they are barely getting it.”
Osorio translated for more than 70 patients over the weekend. Through this volunteer work, farm workers shared their stories of how COVID-19 has impacted them, including losing loved ones to COVID-19; however, Osorio saw the community come together, as some patients invited their nurses to family barbecues as a way to thank them.
Patients expressed nervousness to take the vaccine because of side effects; however, they spoke of the importance of being vaccinated not just for themselves, but also for their community, according to Osorio.
“For the most part, people said this was for the benefit of themselves and their community. I think that was inspiring,” Osorio said. “To see so many people who were nervous willing to do this for their families, it speaks volumes.”
Biviana Camacho, a Delano resident and community volunteer at the event, also offered translation services to patients receiving their vaccine. As the daughter of a farm worker, she found this event to be extremely important.
“It warms my heart that I was able to reassure (farm workers) and talk to them about the importance of the vaccine,” she said. “The farm working community is really coming out and getting their vaccines.”
Overall, farm workers expressed appreciation. Despite wait times, Osorio recalls some saying, “Hey, we came here to do what we got to do.”
The vaccination events will continue through the next two weekends (March 20-21 and March 27 and 28) at Forty Acres in Delano. Those interested in making an appointment to receive a vaccine can the bilingual toll free call centers of UFW Foundation (661-501-4280) and the Latino COVID task force’s Project Abuelita (661-525-5900) for appointments.
Photo Courtesy: Facebook by David A. Torres