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UFW Foundation Pushes For State and Local Officials To Prioritize Onsite Clinics For Farmworkers

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Madi Bolanos
/
Valley Public Radio
Agriculture workers sit six feet apart for 15 minutes after recieving the first round of the COVID vaccine at Pappas Family Farm in Mendota, Ca.

 

Advocates say meeting farmworkers at their workplace to distribute vaccines is the best way to ensure all farmworkers get the vaccine. Fresno County began it’s soft rollout of vaccines to farmworkers on Monday, with 50 ag workers receiving their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at their workplace, Pappas Family Farm in Mendota. 

In addition to onsite workplace vaccine centers, County officials said in a press conference at the site, the local health department is working with rural clinics to distribute the vaccines. 

 

United Farm Workers Foundation spokeswoman Leydy Rangel says the county should prioritize mobile clinics over established rural clinics. 

 

“If we’re talking about farmworkers who live in rural areas, it might take them 30 minutes to get to their nearest vaccination location,” she said. 

 

For a population that relies heavily on carpooling or public transportation, it’s just not feasible, Rangel said. And most clinics only offer appointments during their work hours which presents another obstacle for farmworkers. 

 

“If they make an appointment with the public health sites, what that means, what that translates to is they’re going to have to lose a whole day of work just to get the vaccine,” Rangel said. 

 

That’s why, if the state wants to ensure all farmworkers receive the vaccine it needs to meet farmworkers where they are, Rangel said. 

 

“What we saw in Fresno, with the mobile clinics meeting them where they’re at, that’s exactly what we need replicated across the entire United States,” she said.  

 

A UFW Foundation survey asked 14,000 farmworkers in the country about their concerns regarding the vaccine. The survey found that 78% did not have health insurance.

 

“While we know right now that the vaccine is already paid for, we also know that there is a fee for the administration of the vaccine,” Rangel said. “And farmworkers are concerned about that.” 

 

Administering the vaccine costs $16.94 for the first dose and $28.39 for the second, according to rules published in October by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. For people without insurance, healthcare providers will have to bill a provider relief fund for reimbursement. 

 

But Rangel says counties need to provide and clarify this COVID-19 information in more languages and make it more accessible to farmworker communities. 

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