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Pinay doctor leads vaccination efforts in undervaxxed Delano

Steve Angeles | TFC News Delano, California

Posted at Dec 22 2021 01:26 PM

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Dr. Danielle Colayco of Komoto Pharmacies and its foundation makes multiple trips from Los Angeles to Kern County to bring Covid-19 vaccines to one of the state’s most under-vaccinated communities: the farm workers in Delano.

"It’s really for the good of the community to get everyone vaccinated. We are seeing surges in area codes and zip codes where people are forgotten. Whenever we have these under-resourced communities, it's as important as ever to be able to provide services," Colayco stresses. "We have a lot of families in Kern County. They’re busy working. They don’t have time to get vaccinated. It’s important to meet them where they’re at."

Kern County is home to a large farming community including a big Filipino population. Less than half of its eligible residents are fully vaccinated. While they say access is not a major issue, misinformation has kept the numbers down, something that Dr. Colayco and the California Farmworker Foundation (CFF) are trying to combat.

"There’s a lot of misinformation that's circulating on social media; a lot of myths that have no scientific basis unfortunately, making people really scared to get the vaccine so there is a lot of hesitancy on the part of the community. We see it as our goal as pharmacists, especially community pharmacists, because we have that interaction with the public, to provide them with science-based information so they can feel confident getting vaccinated."

500 shots, mostly first doses, were given out during an event at the Delano School District headquarters. "We hit a wall a few months back when nobody wanted to get vaccinated," Maria Ibarra, program coordinator of the CFF, notes. "Now we’re very happy that the turnout has been very successful."

They admit, vaccine mandates have also helped fuel the demand, with children as young as 5 now eligible for vaccination. With variants like Omicron continuing to surface and the cold weather kicking in, advocates say events like this are more crucial than ever. 

"Everybody has their eyes on Omicron and other emerging variants, but unfortunately as long as the world is not vaccinated, we're going to keep continuing to see these new variants surge until we see vaccine equity globally," Colayco points out.

Colayco and CFF plan another big vaccination event to kick off the New Year, hoping they can start 2022 with an even higher vaccine turnout in a county that's been behind.