The Riverside County Department of Public Health is turning to the Diocese to help provide the COVID-19 vaccine to targeted populations.

Over the past six weeks, five Catholic parishes have collaborated with County workers and community partners to provide more than 2,000 people with the COVID-19 vaccine. Our Lady of Soledad, Coachella; St. Edward, Corona; Our Lady of the Valley, Hemet; Holy Spirit, Hemet and St. Anthony, San Jacinto have all served as vaccination sites. Community partners TODEC and Desert HealthCare District have also been part of the collaborative effort.

At press time Our Lady of the Valley had hosted three different vaccination dates. The parish had indicated in late 2020 that it would be willing to serve as site but did not receive word for several months. Then “it happened very quickly,” according to Business Manager Ivonne Ramirez, as County officials visited the parish in January and the first date happened a week later. The parishes are part of the County’s Equity Vaccination Program which targets lower income individuals, multi-generational households, agricultural workers, and seniors – identified in State census tracts as being high risk.

Hundreds of farm workers from Riverside County were brought to Our Lady of the Valley by bus to receive their vaccination.

EOC Director Ann Marie Gallant says County officials have long seen the Diocese as key to reaching the more high-risk Hispanic population. So, when vaccines became available for agriculture workers in late January, parishes in the Hemet Valley and Coachella were asked to step forward as sites. The results were a marked improvement over other venues used by the County, says Gallant.

“The County is very happy with our partnership,” she says. “When they hosted testing and vaccination sites at non-parish sites, they were getting only fifty or sixty people responding. Once they held them at our parishes, they were getting 300-350 at an event.”

Full story at Inland Catholic Byte.