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Hotline Provides Vaccine Information To People In Kern County Detention Centers

People in detention centers in Kern County have been eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine since March 15. A hotline operated by the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice is ensuring vaccine information gets to those who are detained, says Edwin Carmona-Cruz, community engagement director.


Many people detained at Mesa Verde and Golden State Annex were initially hesitant to get the vaccine, Carmona-Cruz says. 


“A lot of questions came up in terms of ‘What does the vaccine mean not just for my health but also for my legal case?’” he says. 


He says many of the folks he spoke with reported not getting any information or reassurance about the vaccine from Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Geo Group. Since the collaborative already had a hotline in place for legal questions, he decided to expand it to answer queries about the vaccine. 


“When we connected folks inside with trusted health care providers that provide cultural and linguistic education, that made a world of difference,” he says.   


He says two-thirds of the people detained have now been vaccinated. ICE and Geo Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Madi Bolanos covered immigration and underserved communities for KVPR from 2020-2022. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border.