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Groups support vax clinics for Calif. farmworkers

Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation WFP-NapaValleyFarmworkerFoundation-vax.jpg
Farmworkers line up for a vaccination clinic in California's Napa Valley.
Laborers in the wine country, San Joaquin Valley get inoculated from COVID-19.

Farm groups throughout California are stepping up to make sure workers get access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Sonoma County boasts perhaps the most successful vaccination effort of essential ag and production workers with more than 95% of workers there now having had the shots, according to the Sonoma County Winegrowers.

Nearby, the Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation announced a donation of over $60,000 in support of the St. Helena Hospital Foundation’s (SHHF) COVID-19 vaccination clinic after having made an earlier $10,000 contribution when the vaccine clinic first opened. In all, the FWF has contributed over $70,000 to date.

And the Western Agricultural Processors Association recently coordinated a major COVID-19 vaccine event in Madera, bringing together tree nut and other industry professionals to vaccinate more than 300 people.

All the groups worked with local health care providers and nonprofit organizations to put on the clinics.

“Because of the outstanding coordination and trust amongst all the organizing partners, we exceeded our timelines in getting our neighbors vaccinated," said Karissa Kruse, the Sonoma County Winegrowers president. "We’ve shared one goal from the beginning — ensure that all of our vineyard and production workers got vaccinated as soon as possible."

Vaccine appointments scheduled

Once vaccines became available, Sonoma County’s winegrape farmers, vintners and health communities worked together to schedule appointments and vaccinate essential workers throughout the region, giving out hundreds of COVID-19 shots each week, according to a release.

The program is beginning to wind down but remains accessible for all vineyard and wine production workers who live or work in Sonoma County, the SCW explains.

“The effort in Sonoma County by the agriculture and health communities to organize and vaccinate essential ag and production workers is a great model,” said Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “The results of this vaccine campaign are most impressive, and it personifies Sonoma County and its agricultural heritage.”

The Napa Valley Farmworker Foundation and St. Helena Hospital Foundation have partnered throughout the pandemic to protect the health and safety of essential farmworkers, the organizations said.

In July, the FWF and NVG jointly funded the pilot program of SHHF’s mobile testing unit, which since then has provided nearly 15,000 in-the-field COVID-19 tests for vineyard and winery workers.

WAPA joined with United Way to provide participants with a box of non-perishable food item and a backpack filled with face masks, hand sanitizer, disaster preparedness awareness materials, as well as serving breakfast burritos in the morning and tacos in the afternoon.

The organizations also credit help from California Farm Worker Foundation, AmeriCorps, Madera County Department of Public Health, Optum Serve, and the CDFA. They also thanked The Almond Co. for helping to coordinate events in other counties, including an upcoming one in Fresno County.

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