Vaccine rollout for California farmworkers is fraught with confusion, bad timing

California
Agriculture workers process sweet corn on a packaging line in Lodi sometime in 2021. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Agriculture workers process sweet corn on a packaging line in Lodi sometime in 2021. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

In the wine region of northern San Joaquin Valley, the coarse spindles of pruned grapevines are sprouting delicate creepers that curl toward wire trellises, and cherry trees are shedding soft pink blossoms.

Along with spring, the second harvest season of the pandemic has arrived. Fields and packing sheds soon will be filled with workers, many of whom are migrants and already traveling up the Central Valley as crops ripen.

It is a “pivotal time” to inoculate farmworkers against the coronavirus before they return to their perilous work, said UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres.

But it’s also the moment California is tossing out its existing strategy for vaccine distribution — controlled by local governments — and transferring it to a nonprofit insurance company, Blue Shield. The collision of harvest season with the Blue Shield takeover has left many community organizers and health officials worried that existing plans, though criticized for being inadequate and uneven, will be abandoned for a different set of uncertainties.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.

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