Santa Clara County Expanding Vaccine Eligibility to Farmer Workers.
When: February 28 – March 3.
Where: Monterey Mushrooms in Morgan Hill.
Starting Sunday, February 28, Santa Clara County will start vaccinating farm workers at Monterey Mushrooms in Morgan Hill, one of the largest agricultural employers in the Bay Area.
“The facility employs about 400 employees. So we’re really excited. We moved the mountain,” Newman said.
The County plans to deliver and vaccinate more than a thousand farm workers at the facility between Sunday and Wednesday, March 3. In another month, the county will be back to administer the second round of vaccinations.
Agriculture workers were among the jobs with the highest death rates from the coronavirus because of the essential in-person work they do – in a recent study, UCSF researchers looked at occupational risks for COVID-19.
Dr. Walt Newman, a family practitioner in San Jose, has been working for months with Santa Clara County and the United Farm Workers Union to get vaccines out to farm workers.
“The problem is that farm workers often don’t have computer access,” Newman said. “So the vaccination rates are very low.”
Newman felt a sense of urgency in getting vaccination efforts started with the group. Researchers from the UCSF study found that Latino and Black populations face additional risks because they disproportionately make up California’s essential workforce.
During the pandemic, Latino farm workers saw an almost 60 percent uptick in deaths when compared to before the pandemic started.
Newman worked with the county to devise a plan to make vaccinations more accessible: bringing the vaccines to the workers.
“We all believe that the uptick of vaccines will be much higher in the workplace, rather than having them make an online reservation, go to a fairground,” Newman said. “I mean, many of these folks are living paycheck to paycheck.”