Governor announces new Central Valley vaccine initiatives
–As California continues to ramp up vaccination efforts statewide, Governor Gavin Newsom announced this week that the state is partnering with OptumServe and local counties to open up to 11 vaccination sites within the next week to serve some of the hardest-hit or most at-risk communities in the Central Valley, in addition to other steps to bolster vaccination efforts in the region.
“Farming communities like Arvin are a point of pride in California, and throughout the pandemic, have worked tirelessly to sustain families all across the state and this nation,” said Newsom. “The efforts announced today will help us meet vulnerable and vital Central Valley communities where they are, helping our entire state combat this pandemic effectively, efficiently, and equitably.”
The governor made the announcement today alongside Arvin Mayor Olivia Trujillo, Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh, and Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez at the OptumServe site in Arvin, a primarily Latino and immigrant community in a heavily agricultural area. The Arvin site will begin offering vaccinations no later than this Thursday to all eligible Phase 1a and Phase 1b, Tier 1 eligible groups.
The state is also increasing vaccine allocations to the Central Valley by 58-percent above last week, based on recent changes in our state’s allocation methodology that better reflect this region’s workforce. The state’s vaccine allocation formula began factoring in the employment sectors in Phase 1b, Tier 1 (education, emergency services, and food and agriculture). The new formula weights age 65+ at 70-percent and employment sectors at 30-percent, which increases allocations to the Central Valley due to its heavy concentration of food and agricultural workers.
As soon as Friday, the state is also making available an additional 34,000 doses on a one-time basis to vaccinate food and agricultural workers through the deployment of OptumServe mobile teams. These doses are in addition to existing county allocations.
The state is working with local and community partners to provide supports and culturally competent information to farmworkers and their families during the pandemic. The governor has proposed an additional $24 million to support wraparound services and financial assistance as part of the state’s Housing for the Harvest program, which provides safe, temporary isolation spaces for agricultural workers who test positive or were exposed to the virus. The state has employed several strategies to effectively reach farmworkers and their families with in-language and culturally competent information, including through paid and earned media efforts with ethnic media. More than $17.3 million was provided to community-based organizations to support education-related to COVID-19 statewide.
California continues to leverage various outreach channels through the Labor Agency to reach farmworkers with information about their rights and protections during the pandemic, regardless of immigration status. In addition, the state funds pro bono immigration legal services and outreach through community nonprofits, including information on how immigration status impacts access to public benefits.