By Maria Medina

SAN JOSE (KPIX) — An effort is underway in Santa Clara County to get COVID-19 vaccinations to East San Jose and Gilroy, the community’s hardest-hit areas.

Meanwhile, San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo announced a petition Thursday urging all 19 school districts along with state and county leaders to prioritize kindergarten through fifth grade teachers to get vaccinated. Liccardo said he would start with schools in struggling communities.

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“This is an important issue of social justice, of civil rights,” Liccardo said. “We know which kids are being left behind. Overwhelmingly, it’s low-income families, children of color.”

County health officials have reported the Latino community has had the highest infection rate in the county and has experienced technological, transportation and other barriers in the accessibility of the vaccine.

On Thursday, county and city leaders announced pop-up, drop-in vaccination clinics in East San Jose on 1775 Story Rd. and at 7371 Hanna St. in Gilroy.

“I’m standing in the district that has been devastated by the pandemic,” said councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco during a news conference at the East San Jose pop-up clinic.

The location will be open Thursdays and Fridays and will begin handing out wrist bands at 8:30 a.m. for appointments later in the day. The Gilroy location will be open on Wednesdays with wrist bands handed out at 8 a.m.

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Despite the high rate of infection in the Latino community, the county reports there is some hesitancy in the group to get vaccinated.

Dana Fierce, who lives near the San Jose pop-up clinic, said that she isn’t planning on getting the vaccine any time soon.

“I’m a cancer survivor,” Fierce said. “I think, right now, it’s just way too soon. I just feel we need a little bit more research.”

But she said her reason isn’t the same as others she’s heard about in the community.

“I do know a lot of people, Hispanic, Latinos, who do want to get it but they don’t out of fear that it’s going to cost a lot of money,” Fierce said.

The vaccinations, however, are free. County officials said they also plan to conduct home and business visits to encourage and educate residents about the vaccine.

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“Regardless of insurance or immigration status and regardless of where they receive their health care,” said Santa Clara County deputy health director Dr. Rocio Luna.