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Gilroy
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July 30, 2021

Christopher Ranch workers get vaccinated

Two-day clinic to serve 1,000 farmworkers

Christopher Ranch employees are receiving their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine March 4-5, and officials plan to vaccinate about 1,000 farmworkers over the two-day clinic.

The Gilroy-based company partnered with Santa Clara County Public Health to host the clinic, becoming the next major farmer in the county to vaccinate its workers following efforts by Monterey Mushrooms in Morgan Hill over the past week.

Executive Vice President Ken Christopher said the ranch has been working with the county over the past month to host the clinic, which was made easier thanks to a large tent set up in the parking lot that serves as a temporary break room per public health guidelines.

Farmworkers became eligible to receive the vaccine on Feb. 28.

Christopher and his father, CEO Bill Christopher, were the first to receive the vaccine on March 4 as a way to set an example of the importance of being vaccinated, he said.

“This is the start of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Ken Christopher said. “It’s been a hard year. All of our employees are essential workers. We’re proud to offer this to them, because they’re the ones that keep our farm going. If not for them, we have nothing.”

A line of Christopher Ranch employees wait for their turn to get vaccinated on March 4. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

Ranch employees were given paid time to participate in the clinic, Christopher said, adding that about 90 percent of the employees were expected to receive the shot.

Bill Christopher said the ranch wanted to make it easy for its employees to get vaccinated by bringing the clinic to them.

“We felt the safest thing at this time for our employees was to give them an opportunity to get the vaccine if that’s what their choice was,” he said.

Ken Christopher said the ranch has experienced a few Covid-19 cases among its staff over the past year, but gave praise to Human Resources Director Richard Plato for his work in keeping employees safe.

“Everyone here is loyal to us, so in offering this we hope we’re showing we’re loyal back to them,” he said.

United Farm Workers Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson-Torres, at the Feb. 28 clinic at Monterey Mushrooms, said she has been part of an ongoing effort to convince the state to ensure that farmworkers in California are prioritized in the line for the Covid-19 vaccine. She cited a UCSF study that found that Latino farmworkers in California have seen a 59-percent increase in death since the pandemic started.

According to county data, as of March 3, 368,451 first doses of the vaccine have been administered in Santa Clara County, with a little under 70,000 Latino residents receiving at least a first dose.

For information on vaccination sites and to schedule an appointment, visit sccfreevax.org.

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