Farmworkers get COVID-19 vaccines in Ventura County; teachers are next

A COVID-19 testing sign sits beside a field in Oxnard.
COVID-19 testing is available to farmworkers close to where they work near a hoop greenhouse in Oxnard.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Ventura County is now vaccinating farmworkers as part of a pilot program geared toward the region’s large agricultural sector.

The move precedes the vaccination of additional essential workers, who will be eligible for inoculations next week. At that time, county officials said they will extend access to occupational groups who are part of California’s Phase 1B vaccination tier, which in addition to farm and agricultural workers, includes teachers, child-care providers and first responders.

More than 100 farmworkers at Good Farms in Oxnard received a shot Friday as part of the pilot program aided by Ventura County’s Farmworker Resource Program, which launched in 2019, Supervisor Carmen Ramirez said during a public briefing.


Services are provided in English and Spanish, in addition to Indigenous languages such as Mixteco, Zapoteco and Purepecha to ensure accessibility.

Mike Powers, Ventura County’s chief executive officer, said the in-person nature of farmworkers’ jobs has kept them on the front lines amid the pandemic.

“These brave farmworkers are essential to our community, putting food on our table,” Powers said. “And they’ve continued to work this whole time. They didn’t have the opportunity to isolate or stay at home; they needed to continue to work for us. And so for them, we need to do this project, we need to bring this to them.”

California’s vaccine rollout is missing millions who work in risky conditions, and it’s unclear when those with less visible jobs can get inoculated.

Feb. 17, 2021

Ventura County has administered 158,225 vaccine doses, including 112,969 first doses and 45,256 second doses, according to data. That equates to more than 15% of the local population, said Rigoberto Vargas, the county’s director of public health.

Supply remains limited, however, like elsewhere across the state and country, Vargas added. About 3,000 appointments were expected to open Monday, he said.

Holding back tears, Ramirez said during Friday’s briefing that she had lost a brother to COVID-19 and urged farmworkers — and everyone else — to get the vaccine.


“Don’t let it happen to you,” said Ramirez, who represents Oxnard, among other Ventura County communities.

There are about 100,000 county residents who will become eligible for vaccinations as part of Phase 1B, Vargas said.

“That’s a lot of people with still limited supply. So it’s ... going to take time” to vaccinate everyone in the group, he said.

Like much of California, new coronavirus cases have declined in Ventura County. On Friday, there were a little more than 140 new infections reported. That’s down from a peak of more than 1,800 on Jan. 4, data show.