New state coalition aims to make sure eventual COVID-19 vaccine is accessible to all

Local News

Coalition is made up of universities and community organizations around the state

MERCED, California (KGPE) — Scientists worldwide are working around the clock to create a COVID-19 vaccine. Locally, there’s work being done to make sure everyone has access to it when one is approved.

Right now, there are a number of human trials underway. While it’ll still be some time before we see a fully approved vaccine, health leaders around the country are already making sure they’re prepared for distribution.

In Fresno County, interim health officer Dr. Rais Vohra said the public health department is looking at how to store the vaccine — knowing it’ll need to be kept cold.

“That actually complicates the logistics of how we deploy it. We’re going to need partners that have refrigerators, or the capacity to keep things on ice and very cold. So, we don’t ruin those lots of the vaccine,” Vohra said during the county’s COVID-19 press conference on Friday.

As the trials continue, universities and community organizations statewide created the STOP COVID-19 CA, or STOP COVID-19 California Alliance. Its goal is to ensure communities hardest hit by the virus have a seat at the table — from vaccine research to distribution.

Nancy Burke, chair of UC Merced’s public health department, said talks about this coalition started two months ago when “there were five to seven trials happening” in California.

“90% of the participants in the trials were white, which is clearly not representative of our state’s diverse population,” Burke said.

To keep those most at-risk informed, Burke said they are relying on community organizations like Cultiva La Salud Merced County. That organization in particular has already integrated itself into Merced County’s Hispanic communities.

Through them, the aim is to disseminate the latest information, so there are no barriers preventing anyone from a vaccine.

“[Our program participants] are sharing this information with their neighbors, their family, and their network of community they work with at the local level,” program manager Claudia Corchado said.

Other University of California schools are a part of this, like UCLA and UC San Francisco.

Cultiva La Salud Merced County is always welcoming more to join their programs, you can call Corchado with more information at 209-756-7000.

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