PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The Guatemalan-Maya Center of Lake Worth gave out personal protective equipment and hygiene supplies to farmworkers Wednesday in Palm Beach County.
It is an effort that is tied in with National Farmworkers Awareness Week, during which time advocacy organizations and individuals bring attention to farmworkers and honor them for their hard work.
Mariana Blanco, who is the assistant executive director at the Guatemalan-Maya Center, said there have been multiple challenges trying to get migrant farmworkers vaccinated.
One of the challenges is a language barrier and literacy, as well as limitations for migrant farmworkers who don't have access to the internet.
"They would need identification, which a lot of them don't have documents to provide proof of addresses or a valid driver's license," Blanco said. "We've seen that it has turned more into an immigration problem rather than a public health issue."
According to Blanco, it is important for migrant farmworkers to get and have access to the COVID-19 vaccine because they are essential workers and have been laboring through the pandemic.
"They are working in clusters and multiple people at a time," Blanco said. "Even their bus drive is multiple people on the same bus. If we're not protecting the farmworkers, we're not protecting the communities that they live in."
Farmworkers usually migrate to other parts of the state or travel to other states, depending on the season, which raises concerns among immigrant advocacy groups of the virus spreading if they are not vaccinated.
"If we are not prioritizing them now, when they are getting ready to migrate to Georgia, to North Carolina to work in the fields where there's agricultural labor, now they also could be carrying that disease and taking it up north," Blanco said.
The Guatemalan-Maya Center, along with American Friends Service Committee in Florida and the Farmworker Association of Florida, will be hosting various events to help raise awareness to protect farmworkers.
A prayer vigil for the farmworkers who died because of COVID-19 will be held Saturday outside the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County.