BY MAURICIO SANJUAN MELO
In a joint effort to vaccinate agricultural workers, the United Against COVID-19 Coalition held a Vaccination Clinic in Kern County over the weekend.
This vaccination events benefited 800 essential workers, who also received vouchers of $20 to exchange for food. Camila Chavez, the executive director of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, reported that 500 agricultural workers in Lamont and 300 more in Bakersfield benefited from receiving the Pfizer vaccine. These vaccines were made possible through a partnership with Governor Gavin Newsom and eight organizations that make up the United Coalition Against COVID-19.
After a year of enduring the pandemic, the couple of José Luis Hernández and Maria Arriaga were grateful to receive the vaccine.
“We are grateful with all the organizations that made it possible for my wife and I to get vaccinated,” said Hernandez. “We never doubted. We decided it because it is a benefit for ourselves.”
For Antonio Gallegos, who dedicated 40 years of his life to the countryside and who is now disabled after losing his left eye due to a cancerous tumor, getting vaccinated with his wife María Robles comes to reassure the fear they have had throughout the pandemic.
In Kern County, there have been more than 105,000 cases of COVID-19 and almost 2,000 deaths. That is why Gallegos’ recommendation is that people get vaccinated “and take care of each other.”
Elizabeth Martínez, in charge of the northern region of the Líderes Campesinos group, mentioned that the people who benefited from the vaccines had to make a prior call to 661-383-2588 to register and be eligible. For those who registered and did not attend, their vaccination was given to people who arrived without an appointment and were on the waiting list.
“Fortunately, the response from the people was very good. Many people wanted to get vaccinated and could not, but we are working to do more events to reach more people,” said Martinez.
Rodolfo Martin and Teresa Monterías, originally from Mexico and El Salvador respectively, were among the people who were on that waiting list. At first, Rodolfo points out that he had doubts about getting the vaccine, but in his work several people have become ill and with a her daughter barely two years old, she feels safer once she has received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Although it took him some time to make a decision on the vaccine, he no longer has any doubt and is ready to take his next vaccine when the time comes, especially since staying at home was impossible for him and his wife because they all had to work in the fields.
The member of Líderes Campesinas was excited and said that thanks to the volunteers from the various organizations, it was possible to set up information tables that promptly channel people and offer them resources while they waited.
Around 100 people currently make up the United Coalition against COVID-19, some volunteers like Jessenia Herendira, who has been participating for 4 years. She said she feels proud to help the community, guide people, in the same way Juan Castellanos who lost his business and that he is now a volunteer mentions that he does it from the heart because he has also worked in the field and that vaccinated people are now safer, which means that more lives are saved.
For both Camila Chavez and Elizabeth Martinez, they agree that the work they do is important, since the virus has not stopped being deadly.
“We have to take care of ourselves, take action, do it together,” said Chavez.
That is why the groups Building Healthy Communities, All of Us Or None, Jakara Movement, Líderes Campesinas, Vision y Compromiso, Unidad Popular Benito Juárez and Dolores Huerta Foundation joined together to form the United Coalition Against COVID-19, which maintains its effort to bring more vaccine clinics to agricultural workers.