As vaccines are becoming more available in the community, the Riverside Department of Health is offering mobile clinics to reach essential workers in underserved communities.
Ezequiel Hernandez rolled up one of his sleeves to be one of the first farmworkers in Riverside County to receive a dose of the coronavirus vaccine. An opportunity presented to him that may keep him healthy and safe during these trying times.
“I feel great,” Hernandez said in Spanish, “I don’t have any reaction, and I feel happy… ready to see my family.” “I have my vaccine ready and I feel great,” he continued.
Thursday, 300 eligible farmworkers from two major agricultural companies in the Eastern Coachella Valley received the Covid19 vaccine.
District 4 county supervisor V. Manual Perez knows this action was needed and made it a high priority since this community is at an elevated risk of contracting the virus and disease. He says an easily spreading virus will affect the workers’ health and the food supply.
“I understand the importance of the farm working community. They are essential, [and] without them we wouldn’t have food on the table and we also have to think of the food supply.” “Grocery workers”, he went on to say, “we also have to think about them too and we are making sure they are also vaccinated, and we are working on that.”
Non-profit organizations like TODEC and Desert Healthcare Foundation and CalFire partnered with Riverside County to assist field workers during the inoculation process.
“We have to lean on our community partners and non-profit organizations that through that process going into their communities and providing information and education and working with ranchers for example and providing that information ahead of time so that people can trust the vaccine,” Perez said.
Riverside County Director of Public Health Kim Saruwatari says there are plans to bring more mobile vaccine sites to the agricultural communities despite uncertainty with vaccine quantities.
“Our biggest limiting factor right now is vaccines; so we could set up a huge number of these events, but we don’t have enough vaccines.” “But we are planning with all of the growers in the Coachella Valley, we are reaching out to all of the growers to figure out how many people they have where we can set up to do vaccinations sites,” she said.