Friday Presentation – Keeney

Understanding COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Access for Daytime Farmworkers in Imperial County, California.

Annie J. Keeney, PhD, MSW; Luis Flores, Imperial Valley Equity and Justice Coalition, Daniela Flores, Imperial Valley Equity and Justice Coalition, Amy Quant, PhD, San Diego State University, Mercy Villasenor, MSW Student, San Diego State University

Dr. Keeney is an assistant professor at San Diego State University School of Social Work and a research associate for the High Plains Intermountain Center for Agriculture Health and Safety (HICHAS). Her overarching research focus is on farmworkers and their families residing or working in rural, resource-scarce areas and understanding how community networks can support the farming community’s mental health needs.

Learning objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to describe the type and severity of the COVID-19 related stressors experienced among Hispanic/Latino commuting and resident farmworkers.
  2. Participants will be able to describe vaccine and testing access barriers and differences among Hispanic/Latino commuting and resident farmworkers.

Imperial County has the highest proportion of non-white, Hispanic/Latino residents in the state of California and a COVID-19 mortality rate more than double the second highest county in the state. The county’s daytime labor force is particularly affected yet understudied. Commuting from Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, the daytime farmworker population is typically in the US daily from 2-3 am to 4-6 pm to ensure Imperial County’s food supply chain continues, yet these workers remain essentially invisible to county vaccination efforts and are excluded from safety net programs.   Farmworkers are currently eligible to access the COVID-19 vaccine in California. Lack of internet access, language barriers, and trust are challenges to vaccination efforts that have been found among those foreign-born farmworkers residing in California. Little is known about those farmworkers that commute daily across the US-Mexico border. Our community-based research project utilizing a mixed methods approach sought to understand the barriers that daytime farmworker populations face in gaining access to COVID-19 vaccinations and testing. We also assessed how widespread other stressors such as housing and food security intersect with COVID-19 related stressors. We will present quantitative and qualitative findings from the perspectives of both commuting and resident farmworkers. Implications to border agricultural health, policy, and practice will be discussed.

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