MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – In the sunny fields across south Miami-Dade County, a group of Hispanic workers are the focus of a targeted vaccine outreach effort.
Despite signs at the federal vaccination site, letting community members know immigration enforcement operations will not happen there, issues pertaining to access, and trust, remained.
“Mistrust in the system, mistrust in the government,” said Susana Vela, Centro Campesino Farm Workers Center Program Coordinator.
In the Spanish-language version of the region’s new “I Did It” vaccine awareness campaign, two are farm workers, which is a strategic choice to ensure that agriculture workers see themselves reflected, and a decision to partner with organizations like Centro Campesino Farm Workers Center.
“They know we are trusted messengers,” said Vela. “We can reach people others can’t.”
Vela explained how just this past weekend they hosted a multi-agency COVID-19 vaccination event.
“People taking photographs saying, ‘I did it,’ people are just excited,” she said. “We are definitely making a difference.”
The event was funded by Health Foundation of South Florida.
Another factor helping with outreach is the Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to lift proof of residency documents on Friday, in this time of ample supply and softening demand.
“Now proof of residency is verbal,” said Loreen Chant, President and CEO of Health Foundation of South Florida. “You have to represent that you work in Florida, and now you are able to get the vaccine and honestly that changed everything.”
Immunization experts point to this sort of thoughtful and strategic partnership of grassroots organizations and tailored messaging.
“Different communities have different concerns, different reasons why their vaccination rates are lagging,” said Chant. “At a time when vaccines are available, we need to make sure we are building the trust, reducing the barriers, and getting these communities vaccinated.”