WILDER, Idaho — Margarita Bedolla from Homedale was in the first group of agricultural workers to get the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine as part of a vaccination effort in Wilder on Thursday.
“Well, just to protect myself and basically my family and the people that work with me in the area,” Bedolla said.
Abel Delgado Salcedo also got the shot and told Idaho News 6 in Spanish that getting the dose means he can continue his work with a sense of security because sometimes he works in close quarters with others elevating his risk of catching the virus.
Agricultural, food processing, and plant facilities workers are now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine. About 130 people were able to get vaccinated.
A team from Terry Reilly Health Services has gone mobile to reach this workforce population.
“We’re here working with folks that are big farm producers in this area. They've been here for a long and time they call us up and said, 'hey can you provide some vaccine to our employees. All of them are ag workers.' We’re super excited we got to be here and provide a vaccine to a really critical part of the community,” said Jesus Blanco, Patient Navigator Supervisor with Terry Reilly Health Services
Henggeler Packing Company in Fruitland had some of its employees attend the vaccination clinic taking place at a hop facility.
“Our farmworkers performed a lot of skilled labor, harvesting, pruning, but today is probably one of the most important things that we do is giving them the opportunity to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 for their health,” Kelly Henggeler, the company's president, said.
Henggeler said they’ve taken many mitigation steps to protect their employees and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“We were very concerned going into last fall, making sure our employees are safe. We put in extra handwashing stations. In a sorting table, we have people that are close together so we inserted some dividers there, stainless steel dividers, to keep the closeness kind of space out a little bit and then we mandated wearing masks,” Henggeler said.
Ag workers under the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Program were also a group that was able to receive the vaccine.
Terry Reilly plans to return and vaccinate 130 more farmworkers next week. Family Medicine Health Center will also be hosting a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for Ag workers on Saturday, March 20. To schedule an appointment call (208) 514-2529.