California is making a big push to substantially increase COVID-19 vaccine availability for essential farm and agriculture workers in Imperial County, a move that has ripple effects across the state as it redistributes limited supply.
Imperial County being an agricultural community began the vaccination of agricultural workers along with teachers and senior citizens. Health Officials announced that beginning this week, COVID-19 vaccines will be available to additional sectors in Phase 1B, Tier 1. This includes high-risk individuals working in education, childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture. Public Health officials are working directly with employers in these sectors to provide vaccination dates and location information to those who qualify.
Allocation data from the California Department of Public Health shows local health offices are set to receive a combined total of about 70,000 more doses this week than last week.
The County of Imperial, Imperial County Public Health Department, Imperial Valley College, and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia hosted a news conference on Feb. 25 during the Mass Vaccination Event offered for local Farmworkers at Imperial Valley College.
County Health Director Jeanette Angulo said they have 1,000 vaccines allocated to them.
“We will have more vaccination sessions for those that work hard every day,” Angulo said. She said the county health department plans to do early morning vaccine events for the farmworkers and can also do it at specific sites to inoculate them.
“We do the early morning clinics during the flu season for the farmworkers but also the national guard will help us with travel teams to reach the farmworkers and also vaccinate them at their working site,” Angulo said.
County Board Chairman Michael Kelley said that vaccinating farmworkers was a milestone in the vaccination schedule since they are an important part of the economy that harvests and feeds the nation.
“We need to make sure they are safe from the virus and that the food is safe as it is distributed through the nation to be consumed,” Chairman Kelley said. Kelley said he appreciates the work of the county and its partners to take care of the southern binational border region.
“We are working to come out of this stronger and healthy than ever,” Kelley said.
Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia thanked the partners that are making the vaccination efforts happen and said he is working with the governor’s office to make sure Imperial Valley gets the fair share of vaccines and the resources that are needed. California announced it would be able to administer 3 million doses a week starting Monday, even though it’s currently doing about 1.4 million shots due to constrained supply.
“This southern border community travels between East Coachella to Imperial Valley due work or pleasure so this region must get the vaccines they need for our essential workforce,” Garcia said.