Gloria Burton, Director of CHS Farmworker Housing Initiative, has spent years developing relationships with organizations that serve our Indigenous/Latinx community in Western Washington. Because of those relationships, the Office of Hispanic Affairs contacted Gloria. The Department of Health was offering a grant to support the Washington State COVID-19 communication program. Gloria contacted CCS Network Builders, Mary Wahl (Northwest) and Isabel Cisneros-Rueda (Southwest) and together developed the Promotores Vaccine Hesitancy Project which the Department of Health then awarded $80,000 in grants.
“At this time, it is of great importance to address the vaccine hesitancy and to achieve the highest participation in our communities. The Promotores Vaccine Hesitancy Project is allowing us through collaboration, effective communication plans, education and compassion to successfully increase the participation in our communities. We are confident that CCS COVID-19 vaccine communication efforts will make the difference in our Indigenous/Latinx and Farmworker communities.”
– Gloria Burton, Director of CHS Farmworker Housing Initiative
CCS Network Builder Mary Wahl, who is leading the Promotores Vaccine Hesitancy Project in Skagit County, says that “the beauty of this project is the team. It is a winning combination that brings together CCS staff, who are part of the Indigenous/Latinx community, and a registered nurse who has the medical knowledge about COVID-19 vaccines.” CCS Farmworker Center Program Coordinators, Marta Martinez Olivera and Guillermina Bazante are instrumental in talking to folks in Spanish or Mixteco at the weekly CCS PREPARES distribution at Immaculate Conception (Mount Vernon). Their comfortable relationship with local people and ease with a local language brings comfort to many who may be struggling about vaccinations. If the family has any medical questions, a nurse is able to answer questions and staff can translate. If an individual or family in the Indigenous/Latinx community member signs up to be vaccinated they receive their vaccine at an offsite clinic. The families who receive vaccines and show their vaccine card receive a gift card funded by the grant. To date, they have spoken to about 42 people and 22 have decided to get vaccinated.
Soon CCS/CHS will start to work with Indigenous/Latinx tenants of La Casa de San Jose and Villa Santa Maria, part of the CHS Farmworker Housing Initiative. The Promotores Vaccine Hesitancy Project will work with onsite CHS Case Manager Yesenia Gama Lopez.
Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties
CCS Network Builder Isabel Cisneros-Rueda is leading the Promotores Vaccine Hesitancy Project in Aberdeen. “We are grateful to be able to work with this grant, we have found families that feel very isolated and are afraid. They don’t have much information about the vaccine, other than what someone else had shared with them,” Isabel said. With the grant money, CCS was able to hire Vidal Cisneros, a new temporary Community Outreach Specialist, and give out gift cards to Indigenous/Latinx families after they receive their first vaccine.
Using her local parish and Aberdeen Food Bank connections, Isabel has been making calls to Indigenous/Latinx families to see if they are open to having a conversation about vaccines. If families are open to a conversation then Isabel and Vidal visit families in their own homes. During Isabel’s first day of outreach half of the families signed up to get vaccinated! Isabel has also been reaching out to farmworker work sites to make an appointment to visit and talk to the workers.
Isabel is a forming member of the Grays Harbor RISE (Red de Inclusion Solidaridad y Empoderamiento) coalition. RISE is helping identify families for CCS to call and have the initial conversation about vaccines. Additionally RISE has printed material in Spanish to encourage Indigenous/Latinx communities to get vaccinated. Member organizations of RISE also provide local up to date resources that CCS staff then bring when visiting homes.
CCS hopes to partner with the local Health Department to answer medical questions about the vaccine. For families this could mean CCS staff can return to visit a family with a medical professional to answer questions. This partnership would have a health care worker who could accompany Isabel and Vidal on their visits to the farmworker sites.