By Claire Hutkins Seda, Senior Writer and Editor, Migrant Clinicians Network
In some parts of the country, essential workers, many of whom are immigrant and migrant agricultural workers who have labored tirelessly to keep food on our tables throughout the pandemic, still lack reliable and easy access the COVID-19 vaccine. For farmworkers and other food workers, this is in part due to the many barriers they face to access any health care, even before the pandemic. Very rural locations, limited modes of transportation, limited time off from work, poor access to health information including local resources, limited technology access, and language and cultural differences each may prevent many essential workers from successfully finding information on local vaccine sites, securing an appointment, and being able to attend the appointment. In addition to these barriers, just like the rest of the US population, many workers have concerns over the speed of the development of the vaccines, and may have encountered health misinformation that sows doubt on the safety of the vaccines.
Yet, agricultural workers may be the most important subgroup of the overall population to receive the vaccine. A paper currently in pre-print that evaluated California records on deaths of Californians aged 18 to 65 from COVID-19 between March and October 2020 found that Latinx food/agriculture workers had the highest rate of increase in mortality among all ethnicities and occupations, with a 59 percent increase in mortality. Latinx Californians overall experienced a 36 percent increase. Caucasian Californians excess mortality increased six percent. Caucasian food/agricultural workers saw a 16 percent increase.
“This increase in excess mortality confirms the heightened occupational risk of COVID-19 infections that food and farm workers face, while simultaneously exposing the racial and ethnic disparities in infection,” said Amy K. Liebman, Migrant Clinicians Network’s Director of Environmental and Occupational Health. “It also underscores the importance of ensuring that this worker population, deemed as essential, gets prioritized for vaccinations both from a policy perspective and on the ground. We need to do all it takes so that vaccines get to workers and we don’t wait for workers to get to vaccines.”
Indeed, many community health centers and other sites of health care provision are increasing outreach to food and farm workers, and ensuring that those efforts are culturally sensitive. To support clinicians in this work, Migrant Clinicians Network has developed numerous resources and tools useful in preparation for COVID-19 vaccine provision. This packet of resources, developed with support from the Health Resources and Services Administration, is available on the MCN website.
MCN’s #YoMeLaPuse campaign offers a short video in Spanish and accompanying five downloadable flyers that show five people of various ages who are proud to get the vaccination. A sixth poster is a template for communities to customize the poster with local community leaders and members, to emphasize the local community’s support of vaccination.
- Video in Spanish: https://bit.ly/38FM60k
- Five posters in Spanish, and a sixth template poster for users to create their own poster: https://bit.ly/38IdwCI
FAQ: The COVID-19 Vaccine and Migrant, Immigrant, and Food and Farm Worker Patients
Our list of frequently asked questions covers common questions that MCN fields from clinicians in our network, specifically for essential worker communities. The list is regularly updated as new questions arise. Available in English and Spanish.
Las vacunas mRNA contra el COVID-19 con Dra. Eva Gálvez (The mRNA Vaccines against COVID-19, with Dr. Eva Galvez)
For a more in-depth look at the mRNA vaccines, how they work, their side effects, and more, Dr. Galvez recorded this 23-minute informational video, in Spanish.
Additional materials are available from MCN, on the MCN website:
Checklists: Preparing for an In-Person Event
MCN’s latest checklists assist outreach teams hosting in-person events when virtual gatherings are just not possible.
In English: COVID-19 Vaccines: Health Department and Vaccine Clinic Considerations to Reach Migrant and Immigrant Workers https://bit.ly/3tsOOhy
In Spanish: Vacunas COVID-19: Consideraciones para departamentos de salud y clínicas de vacunas para llegar a los trabajadores migrantes e inmigrantes https://bit.ly/3vzQAPD
In English: Safely Conducting “Touchless” Outreach Events During COVID-19 to Bring Services to Refugee, Immigrant, and Migrant Populations https://bit.ly/3cGbcxg
In Spanish: Realizando eventos "sin contacto" con seguridad durante COVID-19 para llevar servicios a poblaciones de refugiados, inmigrantes y migrantes https://bit.ly/30VdZwS
What to Expect When Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine
This colorful flyer lists common side effects; notes that the vaccine is free including immigrants; pushes for the need for continued diligence in mask wearing, maintaining distance, and washing hands; and encourages people to get a vaccine even if previously infected. Developed by East Coast Migrant Head Start and adapted by MCN in partnership with the Maryland Lower Shore Vulnerable Population Task Force, the original flyers – available in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole – were curated for Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia, but downloadable templates allow users to customize the flyers for their state.
Anuncio: La Vacuna del COVID-19: Dra. Eva Galvez, una doctora sirviendo a las comunidades migrantes (COVID-19 Vaccine: Dr. Eva Galvez, A Doctor Serving Migrant Communities)
Dr. Eva Galvez, the chair of MCN’s Board of Directors, recorded a short video in Spanish on vaccination and fears around it, which could be useful to play in clinics or during community events.
Vaccine Calendar: Los grandes también se vacunan (Adults Also Get Vaccinated)
MCN’s colorful vaccine calendar has been newly updated to include the COVID-19 vaccines. This calendar, presented as a wheel and surrounded by an engaging comic, gives low-literacy information on vaccines and some information on why adults need immunizations, too. Available for download on MCN’s page in high resolution for poster-size printing.
You can find more multilingual resources from MCN and other organizations on our COVID-19 page, which is available in English and Spanish: https://www.migrantclinician.org/COVID-19-pandemic. You can also learn more about our work to support clinicians and their patients by subscribing to our blog: https://www.migrantclinician.org/blog.
Read this article in the Spring 2021 issue of Streamline here!
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