SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — Community organizations across Sacramento are asking for a seat at the table as counties roll out mass vaccination plans. They want to make sure that the hardest hit, most vulnerable communities are getting the information they need to get vaccinated when it's their turn.
"We're calling on the county Public Health Department and the City of Emergency Management to not repeat the mistakes of the past, and immediately begin to partner with the community-based organizations that service the communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic," Eric Guerra, a Sacramento city councilmember said.
Guerra, alongside a number of different community organizations, is calling for a seat at the table with public health officials on the local level to help with the mass vaccination process.
"Last year, we saw directly how not being early on engaged with the community led to spikes," he said.
This comes as more than half of Sacramento County's total coronavirus cases fall within the Hispanic, Asian, and African American communities.
"Oftentimes, they're not in positions where they can appropriately physically distance themselves, or be able to work remotely. So they've had to be in positions where they are continuously being exposed," Dr. Hakeem Adeniyi, Medical Director at the Sacramento Native American Health Center said.
In order to help make sure more people in these hardest-hit groups get vaccinated, Guerra wants to make sure that it's not just the government talking about the vaccine, but that it's trusted community organizations too.
"Many of our communities have already become testing sites. They've done flu vaccinating workshops, they've got the trust of their neighbors, they've got the trust of the families that come to them for all of these services," Guerra said.
Rachel Rios, the executive director of La Familia Counseling Center, has already laid the groundwork in connecting and building trust with the community by holding a weekly testing clinic at their La Familia Maple Neighborhood Center every Monday.
"We should be doing the campaign to educate them, and to address the myths and the stigma that's associated. We know that there's a lot of fear around vaccinations with our communities of color so we should be working on addressing those," Rios said.
Rios said this includes breaking down all barriers to educate agriculture workers in the fields, too, as their turn for vaccinations is coming up in Tier 1B -- likely to start by the end of January in Sacramento County.
"So we need to be talking about how we're going to take the vaccination to the farmworkers out in the farms because they don't have ways to get to these clinics. There are no clinics near them," she said.
Groups that are standing at the ready to help the county with clinics, education, and relaying information on where and when to get your shot in all languages.
"If we don't get information out accurately, we will never defeat the pandemic early if we're not being thoughtful about working with community partners," Guerra said.
ABC10 reached out to Sacramento County Public Health about this but did not receive a response back yet.
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