SLO County ramps up farmworker vaccination
San Luis Obispo County’s Farm Worker Outreach Taskforce is increasing efforts to vaccinate local agricultural workers.
The county recently administered more than 1,200 vaccinations to farmworkers at special half-day clinics in Paso Robles and Arroyo Grande.
Michelle Shoresman, the public information officer for San Luis Obispo County Public Health, said the Farm Worker Outreach Taskforce coordinates with local farms to bring their employees to the clinics.
Shoresman said many companies allow their employees to get vaccinated during paid hours.
Volunteers help facilitate the clinics and, Shoresman said, a majority of them are Spanish and Mixtec speakers.
Shoresman said San Luis Obispo County is prioritizing Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccines for these clinics and other hard-to-serve or at-risk populations that may have trouble returning for a second dose.
According to data provided by San Luis Obispo County and the U.S. Census Bureau, the Hispanic and Latino community is about one-third the size of the white population in the county.
But the two groups account for a very similar percentage of total COVID-19 cases locally.
In San Luis Obispo County, Hispanic and Latino people account for about 23% of the population and about 33% of total cases, while white people make up about 69% of the population and 38% of cases.
Christian Arana is the vice president of policy at the Latino Community Foundation, which works to support Latinos in California.
Arana said Latinos are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 because of the types of jobs they hold, the housing they live in, the languages they speak and their access to resources.
He said San Luis Obispo County’s special half-day clinics are exactly the kind of events necessary to combat the virus in our local farm worker communities in the short term.
“Central Coast and SLO County in particular -- they’ve been hit hard because these are farmworking communities,” Arana said. “So we’re in a race against time, really, because harvest season is right around the corner and we can ill afford another wave.”
San Luis Obispo County is planning additional half-day vaccination clinics for agriculture workers April 2 and April 9.
Shoresman said the county will continue to evaluate the necessity of the clinics based on demand and interest.