The success of the California Secretary of Agriculture’s Salute program has resulted in nearly 100% of the region’s 8,000 vineyard and production workers being vaccinated.

SANTA ROSA, CA. (March 22, 2021) – Sonoma County has perhaps the best record of vaccinating key agricultural and industrial workers in the state and perhaps in the country, with more than 95 percent of workers vaccinated to date.  Once the vaccines were available, farmers, grape growers and health officials in Sonoma County were able to come together to schedule meetings and vaccinate key employees throughout the region to administer hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines each week. The vaccination program is being phased out, but is still available to all employees in vineyards and wineries who live or work in Sonoma County.

Sonoma County’s agricultural and public health efforts to organize and vaccinate key agricultural and manufacturing workers are an excellent model, said Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.  She added: The results of this vaccination campaign are extremely impressive and representative of Sonoma County and its agricultural heritage.

Participating in the program are Sonoma County grape growers, Sonoma County farms, local health centers including Western County Health Center, Sonoma County Health Center, Alliance Medical Center, Alexander Valley Health Center and the Sonoma County Medical Association.  Each farm group had specific responsibilities: Grape growers worked with local grape growers, grape growers worked with local wine producers, and the Sonoma County Farm Bureau worked with non-growers and processors of agricultural products.

Thanks to the exceptional coordination and trust between all the organising partners, we were able to exceed the vaccination times of our neighbours.  From the beginning, we had a common goal: to get all of our vineyard and production employees vaccinated as soon as possible, said Carissa Kruse, president of Sonoma County Winegrowers.  She added: This model of connecting healthcare providers with local businesses, farms and wineries has certainly worked, and I look forward to exploring how we can use it to proactively offer health services to all of our local communities.

Each of the partner organizations also provided staff and interpreters and donated additional resources for the success of this work. The Sonoma County Vineyarders Foundation not only organized the introduction of the vaccine to key agribusiness employees, but also provided funding to each of the community medical organizations participating in the program to cover ongoing costs associated with the program.  The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation donated iPads and funds to each of the participating health centers to provide the technology needed to coordinate the logistics of the vaccination program.

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