Agricultural workers should also get the vaccine first

Didn’t we enjoy the fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions to prepare our salads?

Didn’t we count on fresh grapefruits, oranges, and apples to fix our smoothies?

Didn’t we emit a sigh of relief when we saw the well-stocked supermarket stalls?

Didn’t we pray to God Almighty to thank him/her/ihr for living in the USA?

Yes, we all did. But that bounty did not materialize only because the Holy Spirit touched the right elbow of our dear friend Todd Jones, enlightened CEO of Publix Supermarkets (with all due respect for his religious beliefs)

No, it happened because thousands of poor migrant farmers, usually born in Central America, toiled tirelessly first in Florida in the summer and then went up North. A similar phenomenon took place in California and Oregon.

On December 17, 2010, the 5 o’clock news program of Telemundo transmitted the words of the spokesperson of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a union founded in 1993 to defend the rights of thousands of migrant workers in Southwest Florida. Immokalee, on the western edge of the Everglades, has been dubbed as the Winter Tomato Capital of the World, producing that delicious fruit for U.S. consumers. He denounced that migrant workers were hard hit by the Covid 19 epidemic and he asked for more state and federal resources to assist them, no matter their legal status.

On June 18, 20120, Patricia Mazzei, a reporter for The New York Times, wrote: “Florida’s agricultural communities have become cradles of infection, fueling a worrying new spike in the state’s daily toll in new infections, which has hit new records in recent days. The implications go far beyond Florida; case numbers in places like Immokalee are swelling just as many farmworkers are migrating up the Eastern Seaboard for the summer harvest.” The migrant workers spend an unusually big amount of time with large groups in the fields and then go back to cramped living quarters, with family members and/or friends sharing makeshift bunk beds.  

The reporter was surprised to see a crew of Doctors without Borders, an aid group largely associate in our minds with major meteorological disasters or cruel wars, setting shop in the central market of the small city to inform and help people in need. The Public Health picture looked unusually grim six months ago, when she paid a visit, but now it is even worse, with many infected migrant workers in the neighboring hospitals and several of them already dead.

However, right now, we have one (and possibly two) good vaccines that are ready to be quickly deployed in the most affected areas of our society. We, health care workers, are grateful that we are at the top of the waiting list to be inoculated asap.

But shouldn’t that privilege also be extended to those unusually exposed because they feed us?

Vaccinate the migrant workers quickly and efficiently to achieve good immunity. Those critical workers of the food chain must be protected for their (and our) sake.

Justice for the migrant agricultural workers. Vaccinate them first at no extra charge.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.