The Eastern Coachella Valley in Riverside County, CA, is home to approximately 8,000 agricultural workers and a large farm network. Farmworkers are the backbone of the food system that supplies our grocery stores and puts food on the tables of households in California and across much of the nation. When the pandemic fully gripped the nation, frontline food and farmworkers were deemed essential and continued to work. As a result, they have been some of the hardest impacted community members throughout COVID-19 pandemic.
Riverside County Public Health has laid a strong foundation for equity and used their insight to proactively address existing and foreseeable equity issues with vaccine distribution. The department quickly mobilized a vaccine task force and invited faith-based and community-based organizations to the table. In partnership with the Coachella Valley Equity Collaborative [spearheaded by the Desert Healthcare District & Foundation (DHCD) and community-based partners, like TODEC], the department was able to launch mobile vaccination clinics that brought COVID-19 vaccines directly to farmworkers in the fields. Community-based partners helped register farmworkers in person and in their preferred languages, including indigenous languages such as Purepecha. Community partners also worked to address a broad range of concerns, such as concerns over vaccine side effects, immigration status and public charge. To date, the mobile vaccination clinic partnership efforts have successfully vaccinated well over 5,000 farmworkers throughout the Eastern Coachella Valley (and counting!). More recently, these successful efforts have been elevated by the State as promising practices to replicate across California.