Mobile clinic to bring COVID-19 vaccine to Central American Indigenous L.A. residents

Alba Gonzalez stands before a large tree
Alba Gonzalez, a Mayan immigrant from Guatemala, is doing outreach with CIELO to help indigenous residents get vaccinated for COVID-19.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

An Indigenous rights group will hold a mobile clinic Saturday to vaccinate Mexican and Guatemalan Indigenous Los Angeles residents against the novel coronavirus.

CIELO “has a lot of Indigenous language speakers on staff, so they’re able to do outreach in a lot of those close-knit networks, and they’re able to answer questions in indigenous languages,” said Janet Martinez, the organization’s co-founder. “It’s a service that is not readily available in Los Angeles.”

Central American Indigenous communities in L.A. have been hit hard by the pandemic; many work in low-wage and essential service sector jobs. They include Mexicans who speak languages such as Zapotec, Mixtec and Triqui, as well as Guatemalan Maya who speak languages such as K’iche’ and Q’anjob’al. Many have a basic grasp of Spanish.

In late February, as California boosted efforts to reduce vaccine inequities, CIELO launched a vaccine outreach campaign to address language barriers, accessibility issues, misinformation about the vaccine and mistrust in government agencies among Indigenous communities.


Since it began this work, CIELO has secured vaccination appointments for about 700 people. CIELO co-founder Odilia Romero said all 300 appointments for Saturday’s clinic are booked.