Sonoma County may have the most successful vaccination effort of essential ag and production workers in the state and possibly the country to date with more than 95% of workers now vaccinated. Once vaccines became available, Sonoma County’s winegrape farmers, vintners and health communities successfully partnered to schedule appointments and vaccinate essential workers throughout the region to conduct hundreds of COVID-19 vaccinations each week. This vaccination program is beginning to wind down but remains accessible for all vineyard and wine production workers who live or work in Sonoma County.
“The effort in Sonoma County by the agriculture and health communities to organize and vaccinate essential ag and production workers is a great model,” said Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. She added, “The results of this vaccine campaign are most impressive, and it personifies Sonoma County and its agricultural heritage.”
The program is a cooperative effort involving the Sonoma County Winegrowers, the Sonoma County Vintners, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, local community health centers including the West County Health Center, the Sonoma Valley Health Center, the Alliance Medical Center, the Alexander Valley Health Care, and the Sonoma County Medical Association. Each agricultural group was assigned a specific responsibility: the Winegrowers worked with the local winegrape farmers; the Vintners worked with local wineries; and the Sonoma County Farm Bureau worked with non-wine related farmers and ag processors.
“Because of the outstanding coordination and trust amongst all the organizing partners, we exceeded our timelines in getting our neighbors vaccinated. We’ve shared one goal from the beginning — ensure that all of our vineyard and production workers got vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Karissa Kruse, President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers. She added, “This model of bringing healthcare providers together with local businesses, farms and wineries has definitely worked and I am excited to explore how we can use it moving forward to proactively deliver health care to all our local communities. ”
Each of the ag partner organizations also contributed staff, provided translators, and donated additional resources to make this effort successful. In addition to organizing the vaccine rollout for essential ag workers, the Sonoma County Grape Growers Foundation also donated funding to each of the healthcare community organizations involved to help cover day-to-day expenses related to the program. The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation donated iPads and funding to each of the participating Community Health Centers to provide much needed technology for coordinating the logistics of vaccine program.