Tulare County essential workers get second dose of COVID-19 vaccine: ‘I can hug my parents now’


TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE) – Approximately 1,000 Tulare County residents eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine received their second doses on Wednesday – many food and agriculture workers among them.

“It’s vital to get this group vaccinated. We all know since the shutdown happened, these individuals did not stop working,” said Carrie Monteiro with Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency.

Monteiro said they conducted surveys with around 800 employers and found that more than 42,000 food and ag workers said they would take the vaccine.

“Some of the individuals that we’re seeing here today, they can’t necessarily socially distance in packing houses, in food manufacturing,” Monteiro said. “Already in Tulare County, we’ve begun vaccinating over 3,000 employees in this sector and we are going to continue to see more in the weeks to come.”

The International Agri-Center in Tulare has served as a location for the county to get thousands of doses into people’s arms.

“The Agri-Center here is proof that we have the ability to get this vaccine into arms,” Monteiro said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last week announced that the Central Valley would be seeing a 58% increase in vaccine allocation. Monteiro said they’re starting to see a ramp up in Tulare County’s allocations.

“It is important to note, anyone in the state of California and all of our food and agriculture workers, regardless of your immigration status or insurance, there is no cost of getting vaccinated,” Monteiro said.

Those who are eligible in Tulare County include those who work in: food, agriculture, emergency services, healthcare, childcare, and education.

“I’m helping my family. I’m helping my community by getting the shot,” said Taqi Saqib, a Tulare County resident and ag worker who got his second dose of the vaccine.

Educator Mindy Decoito is now vaccinated, along with her husband and parents.

“I’m ready to have kids back in the classroom,” Decoito said. “I teach 8th grade, so we’re not quite there yet. But this is one step in the direction.”

For some who got the second dose on Wednesday, they personally know the effects of COVID-19.

“Two close relatives passed away, uncles and aunts, and close friends. I just found out yesterday a close friend of mine passed away,” said Juan Davila, a Tulare County resident who got his second dose.

For many, having the second dose means being able to see their loved ones with another layer of protection.

“It means I get to hug my parents now,” Decoito said.

“Now I can visit my mom again. Because she’s older, I’ve been staying away,” Davila said.

Monteiro said residents who are eligible and are looking for appointments can register at myturn.ca.gov.

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