WOODLAND, Calif. (KTXL) — New state vaccine guidelines mean that around 40% of Californians are eligible to get their COVID-19 shots.
While there is still a vaccine shortage, Yolo County is making a big effort to vaccinate agricultural workers.
Over 90% of the land in Yolo County is reserved for agriculture. Crops like tomatoes, rice, hay, alfalfa, wine grapes and almonds make up $700 million of the agricultural economy.
That’s why Yolo County has targeted agricultural workers for COVID-19 vaccinations. But it has not been easy, even as the approaching growing season places demands on a healthy workforce.
“They are working sun up, sundown, seven days a week,” said Yolo County spokeswoman Jenny Tan. “Also some of them may not speak English as their first language, and also some of them may have a distrust of government.”
One strategy is to bring vaccination clinics to where the workers are.
At the Center for Land-Based Learning just outside of Woodland, a drive-thru vaccination clinic was set up.
Not only were language barriers addressed but some filled out paperwork in person because they do not have access to computers.
Employers, migrant service groups and farm organizations got the word out for those confused about how to get vaccinated.
“It’s just fantastic. I’m so excited to be able to get the vaccine,” said agricultural worker John Vietor.
Vietor, like many who waited in a long line to get their shot, was at a loss on how to get the vaccine.
“One of the most difficult things was trying to figure out where we would be able to get vaccinated,” he told FOX40. “Fortunately, my employer, the ag community reached out, so were there.”
Yolo County officials say using pop-up clinics has allowed them to vaccinate about 2,500 agricultural workers, which is around 35% of the farm labor force in the county.
CLBL supports new farmers with strategies to succeed so hosting the clinic was natural, especially for the small farmers that went through their program.
“They’re out farming now, so they’re out there in line too,” said CLBL CEO Mary Kimball. “They’re getting their shots, as well as their staff, their labor, as well as many other small farmers here in Yolo County.”
In all, 300 shots were given out, and appointments were made for second shots.
One additional challenge for Yolo County health officials as more categories become open for vaccinations is there are fewer doses for agricultural workers. But they say that won’t stop them from holding these clinics whenever they get a chance.