United Fresh Produce Association and Grower-Shipper Association Discuss HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra's Visit to Farm Worker Vaccination Clinic; Christopher Valadez and Max Cuevas Discuss
SALINAS, CA - Recently, the U.S. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Xavier Becerra, paid a visit to the farm worker vaccination clinic conducted by the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California (GSA) and Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas (CSVS) at the Rodeo Grounds in Salinas, California. The clinic, which is part of an ongoing vaccination effort by both organizations, opened in late February, and has since administered over 40,000 vaccines to farm workers.
United Fresh Produce Association was one organization that applauded Secretary Becerra on his recent visit to the clinic.
“We are grateful for Secretary Becerra’s visit to see firsthand what our industry has done and continues to do to protect our most valuable resource, our companies’ workers,” the association said in a statement to ANUK. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the essential workers in the food supply chain did their jobs each and every day, and our employers worked to make sure they did so in a safe environment. That commitment by both worker and employer kept food on the shelves, even during the darkest days of COVID. This effort to focus on farmworkers’ access to vaccinations is another step in that process to protect our workers and feed the world, and we appreciate the Secretary and the Administration for their support and recognition of our industry’s efforts.”
According to a press release, the GSA and CSVS mass clinics have received national attention for the volume of vaccinations administered and the protection provided for essential workers who grow and harvest fruits and vegetables for consumers across the nation.
“The Secretary’s visit underscores how the federal government supports local efforts to protect the health and safety of farm workers,” Christopher Valadez, GSA President, said about the visit. “Through the direct access to HHS vaccines, we were able to quickly launch these clinics and administer life-saving inoculations to protect farm workers and our community from this persistent virus. [We thank] Secretary Becerra for visiting these clinics and talking with clinic volunteers and the farm workers receiving these vaccines today. As we have seen with the Delta variant, this virus keeps evolving, so we must continue our efforts to protect and vaccinate farm workers, and the Secretary’s visit and recognition of our work motivated all of us.”
As a federally recognized health center, CSVS was able to secure the vaccines for these clinics directly from HHS, the press release continued.
“We appreciate Secretary Becerra coming to this clinic today to see the health benefits these HHS-supplied vaccines have brought to our community,” said Dr. Max Cuevas, CSVS Chief Executive Officer. “We also want to thank all the healthcare professionals, volunteers, staff, and ag employers who have made these mass clinics possible. Their commitment to essential workers and the community has been inspiring, and the Secretary’s visit honors and recognizes that commitment.”
In addition to the launch of the mass vaccination clinics, GSA also worked to develop onsite worker training programs led by healthcare professionals, an expedited testing program for farm workers, and a quarantined housing program for essential employees who have been exposed to the virus.
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