On Saturday, the Community Action Partnership of Kern (CAPK) held a resource fair in partnership with She Power, Building Healthy Communities (BHC) Kern, the Bakersfield American Indian Health Project (BAIHP), and Kern Sol News.
The resource fair — which took place at Rexland Acres Park — consisted of more than 20 vendors from around Kern County, a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic, a food distribution, and free tacos. Those that got vaccinated also received Visa and Walmart giftcards.
“Saturday’s event was part of CAPK’s effort to ensure that all members of the Kern County community have access to COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. The low-income individuals and families we serve – as well as members of our Latino, Black, and indigenous communities – have documented lower vaccination rates. CAPK is hosting events like this, in partnership with Kern Sol News, Bakersfield American Indian Health Project, Building Healthy Communities, and others, to help alleviate that inequity,” commented James Burger, Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator for CAPK.
Burger stated that these types of events are able to happen through funding from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), in partnership with the National Community Action Partnership (NCAP) and Gramercy Research Group.
Burger continued by stating: “Of the individuals who attended the event, 109 individuals got their very first shots. Others got second doses or the most up-to-date booster shots that target the newest strains of the virus. But everyone who joined us on Saturday left Rexland Acres Park with better protection from COVID-19.”
The event was also visited by Doctor Rohan Radhakrishna, the Deputy Director of the Office of Health Equity for the California Department of Public Health, who was looking to receive his dose of the new COVID-19 booster shot.
“It’s called the Bivalent booster, which means two strains: the original strain of COVID as well as the new Omicron Variant, which we know is very tricky and can hide from the immune system,” Dr. Radhakrishna explained. “And we know over time that immunity wanes and that vaccines change as viruses do to stay up to date. Whether you’ve gotten your first series or your booster, as long as you’re 12 years and older and as long as it’s been two months since your last dose, you can get the new updated booster which is so important.”
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Bivalent formulations of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines for use as a single booster dose at least two months after completing primary or booster vaccination. The Moderna Bivalent booster is authorized for use as a single booster dose in individuals 18 years of age and older. The Pfizer-BioNTech Bivalent booster is authorized for use as a single booster dose in individuals 12 years of age and older.
“This fall and winter, we want to hang out with our family, we want to go to community events, we want to party and celebrate our culture,” stated Dr. Radhakrishna. “We want to do so without fear and with the freedom to enjoy our lives and be connected. And if you get the updated booster, then you will have double protection against the original strain and the newer strains.”
A single booster dose with an updated bivalent COVID-19 vaccine is designed to provide broad protection against COVID-19 and better protection against COVID-19 caused by the currently circulating Omicron variant.
If you are eligible for an updated COVID-19 vaccine booster, the updated booster you receive does not need to be from the same manufacturer that made the vaccine you received for your primary vaccination or previous booster.
When asked about possible future upcoming resource fairs, Burger commented: “CAPK and our partners are committed to continuing this effort in the coming months. It is critical that we provide as many vaccinations and boosters as possible as we approach the winter months and the potential for higher exposure and illness rates that come with it. We’re deeply grateful for the financial support of ASTHO and the expertise and collaboration shared by other partners like the California Department of Public Health.”
Another free fresh food distribution and vaccine clinic will take place in Lamont on Friday, September 23 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the David Head Center.