Agricultural and health care workers in Santa Barbara County are calling on California Government Operations Agency Secretary Yolanda Richardson to increase the number of coronavirus vaccines available to the county's farm employees.
In a recent letter, the groups say the state's estimate that there are fewer than 9,000 farmworkers in the county is well below the California Employment Development Department's determination that peak total farm employment in the county was between 28,000 and 29,000 over the last two years.
"In order to most expeditiously accelerate vaccine distribution to Food and Agriculture Workers that might otherwise be difficult to engage, we respectfully request the opportunity for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department to continue to receive direct vaccine allocations for Food and Agriculture Workers for distribution to our partners in health," the groups wrote.
Signers included representatives from the Grower-Shipper Association of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, UnitedAg's Health & Wellness Center, Western Growers Assurance Trust, Dignity Health, Community Health Centers (CHC) of the Central Coast, and county agencies.
The appeal comes as community advocacy groups in Santa Barbara County are also urging public health officials to ensure equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine, the Santa Ynez Valley News reports. They point to data showing fewer vaccines have been given to people of color and that many face linguistic or cultural barriers.