'I feel secure now': Santa Clara County vaccinates farm workers on Cesar Chavez Day

MORGAN HILL, Calif. (KGO) -- Santa Clara County health officials teamed up with an iconic labor union Wednesday afternoon to vaccinate hundreds of farm workers who are essential to the region's food supply, bringing a sense of relief to those seeking to protect themselves from COVID-19.

"I feel secure now," said Gilroy resident Maty Avila, who works for a local company. "I feel awesome... protected somewhat."

RELATED: SF gives back to farmworkers in honor of Cesar Chavez Day

Avila was among those returning for their second vaccine dose as part of a major effort made possible by the county public health department. Countywide, the AG sector accounts for approximately $1.6 billion a year in economic impact. Many workers are of Hispanic/Latino descent, which is a community that has been disproportionately impacted by the virus.

"A lot of the agriculture work is side-by-side, whether it be in a mushroom facility or in the field," said Joe Deviney, county agriculture commissioner. "That's why we're here today to make sure that they are safe."

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The pop-up vaccination site was setup at Monterey Mushrooms with support from the United Farm Workers and UFW Foundation. The partnership is especially meaningful, as America commemorates Cesar Chavez Day, and the many contributions Chavez made to the civil rights and labor movement.

"This is an incredible example of a stewardship and collaboration, supporting the health and well-being of teammates and other agricultural workers who are essential to food production," said Shah Kazemi, Monterey Mushrooms President and CEO.

RELATED: Santa Clara Co. farmworkers receive COVID-19 vaccines at pop-up site

The push to get more farmworkers vaccinated is part of the county's focus on prioritizing underserved communities, despite low vaccine supply from the state. This week, the county announced that one out of every three residents 16 and up has already received their first dose, but urged the public to maintain its vigilance.

"We've seen a dip in testing and we really need people, especially those who haven't been vaccinated to continue to get testing so that we make sure we don't have another rise," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

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