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Farmworkers, Fried Seek More Vaccine Sites For Agricultural Workers

Photo: Anaya Katlego
Photo: Anaya Katlego

At a roundtable hosted by Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, farmworkers called on Gov. Ron DeSantis to open mobile vaccine sites in the rural areas where they live and work.

At a roundtable hosted by Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Wednesday, Florida farmworkers called on Gov. Ron DeSantis to open more vaccine sites in the rural areas where they live and work.

Farmworkers were denied priority access in Florida, unlike other states. Advocates are asking the state and counties to quickly mobilize to areas such as Homestead, south of Miami, and Immokalee, east of Naples.

Cristina, single mother of three from Mexico, was among the agricultural workers seeking to make vaccines more accessible. Speaking in Spanish, she said she picks vegetables at a farm in Homestead, where she got sick with COVID-19.

Cristina said her co-workers also acquired the virus and some died, illustrating the need for more mobile vaccine clinics in rural areas staffed by health care providers who speak Spanish and other native Central and South American languages.  

She said her work is essential to the Florida economy and has the right to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Immokalee farmworker Guadalupe “Lupe” Gonzalo said that along with more mobile vaccine clinics, the state needs to partner with community leaders to alleviate vaccine hesitancy. 

Speaking in Spanish, Gonzalo said a mobile clinic in Immokalee has started to vaccinate hundreds of workers, which has already helped get more shots in arms.

She said DeSantis’ vaccine plan was not equitable in how it distributed shots.

Fried said she’s working closely with Vice President Kamala Harris and FEMA to set up more mobile clinics that would operate out of buses in agricultural communities. 

Beginning Monday, all adult residents and 16- and 17-year-olds with parental consent will be eligibile to be vaccinated in Florida.

Advocates are racing to get newly eligible farmworkers inoculated before they travel north to harvest crops in other regions. Officials in South Florida are telling advocates not to worry about residency requirements and to focus on outreach to get farmworkers ready for the shot.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Copyright 2021 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Danielle Prieur