Rosa Torres, who packs dates, said she never imagined it could be so simple. “God answered my prayers,” said Ms. Torres, 49, an immigrant from Mexico, who was resplendent in matching lime-green shirt, wool cap and mask to mark the occasion.
A single mother, she said she could not afford to get sick and miss work.
“As soon as we got word vaccines were going to be available, we were making plans,” said Janell Percy, executive director of Growing Coachella Valley, a farmer group that is working with the Health Department. Ms. Percy spends frenetic days juggling calls between the county about vaccine availability and growers who inform her of the number of vaccines needed to cover their crews.
On a recent morning, she thought all 350 vaccine slots for the next day had been filled, only to hear from a grower that he had nine extra shots from his allotment.
“I got to find a grower who wants these so they don’t go to waste,” Ms. Percy said as she updated the sheet where she keeps track of distributions with a pencil and an eraser.
The challenges to getting farmworkers vaccinated go well beyond worries about their immigration status. The odds of being able to sign up for a vaccine online are low in a population that often lacks broadband access and faces language barriers. Many cannot easily reach vaccination sites in urban areas because they do not have reliable transportation or the ability to leave work in the middle of the day.
This content was originally published here.