SANTA CLARA COUNTY (CBS SF) — A large group of frontline agricultural workers in the South Bay is receiving second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday at a César Chávez Day event, according to Santa Clara County health officials.
According to a release issued by the county, a total of around 1,000 workers completed their COVID-19 vaccination between Sunday and Wednesday. The farm workers are some of the first to be fully inoculated in Santa Clara County since becoming eligible for vaccines on February 28. Around 500 were scheduled to receive their second dose on Wednesday.READ MORE: San Leandro Community Rallies for Reform on Anniversary of Steven Taylor's Police Shooting Death
“I feel secure now. I feel awesome — protected,” farm worker Maty Avila told KPIX.
Avila said the value of that protection can’t be overstated. She noted that she had a close call during the pandemic when three family members in her household came down with the virus.
“Sometimes it’s frustrating, because you don’t know who’s been exposed or if you’re going to be exposed and bring it home,” she said.
Santa Clara County officials partnered with the United Farm Workers, Monterey Mushrooms and the UFW Foundation for the vaccination drive, with Monterey Mushrooms and other area farms hosting numerous vaccination events for workers.
“Our farm workers who harvest the food we put on our tables make California and this area one of the largest agricultural producing regions in the world generating billions of dollars in revenue every year,” Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said in the release. “We need to keep them safe and protected by going to them with the COVID-19 vaccination because they are at increased risk of getting the virus due to working and housing conditions.”READ MORE: Lodi Parachute Center Skydiver Dies After Chute Gets Tangled on Descent
“Farm workers face heightened threats to their health and safety every day as essential laborers,” said UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres. “That’s why this partnership to provide life-saving vaccines for thousands of farm workers is so critically important. Farm workers want to get vaccinated, but the majority of them don’t have access to the vaccines. In fact, a recent UFW Foundation survey of 10,149 agricultural workers found that 73 percent expressed willingness to get vaccinated, with a further 22 percent neutral. We are committed to ensuring life-saving vaccines reach farm workers throughout the country.”
Health officials said the vaccines were completed by the county’s mobile clinic to ensure equitable vaccine administration to all community members, especially those working in sectors and regions of the county most heavily impacted by COVID-19.
“After the first vaccine, I was relieved and anxiously waiting for the second one. And then, this happened. It was just too close for comfort, I guess,” says Marcelino Cortez who lost a close friend and co-worker from COVID-19 in between receiving his first and second doses.
“We were close. We worked together. And we’d spend a lot of time outside of work together,” he said.
The County supplied the vaccines, tents, tables, chairs and other support services and administers the vaccines, while Monterey Mushrooms, United Farm Workers and the UFW Foundation provided outreach to raise awareness of the event.
More information about COVID-19 vaccination in Santa Clara County can be found on the County’s website at www.sccfreevax.org, with content available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Tagalog, or by calling 211 where assistance is available in multiple languages.MORE NEWS: Saratoga Resident Displaced in 2-Alarm House Fire Sunday Morning
Devin Fehley contributed to this story.