1,200 essential workers get first COVID vaccine dose in Merced County

LOS BANOS, Calif. (KFSN) -- Farm laborers and those who work food processing lines were able to take a little time off for a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination at the Parreira Almond Company in Los Banos.

The health department felt it was important to reach out to a hard-hit population.

"...Because of the number of cases that we've seen among agricultural workers and also, the disproportionate number of deaths that we've seen among Latinos in general but in particular farm laborers," said Merced County Health Officer Dr. Salvador Sandoval.

About 1,200 people received their first Pfizer dose at the mobile clinic.

Many of them have friends, even family members who became severely ill with the coronavirus.

"Your heart goes out to these folks who have lost loved ones and I think this is the step in getting us back to normal," said Merced County Supervisor Scott Silveira.

Valley farmers like Joe Del Bosque want to avoid another season during which workers aren't protected against COVID-19. He helped organize Merced County's first drive-through vaccination because it's been a difficult year for essential workers.

"Everybody wanted to work and everybody had to work but we were working somewhat in fear. Not knowing who was going to get sick or who was coming to work sick so this is going a long way in making people more comfortable at work," said Del Bosque.

The timing of the vaccines was also important.

Work on Valley farms will soon pick up as we enter the harvest season for crops such as asparagus.
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