Dozens of farmworkers in Spain are awaiting their turn to be vaccinated by a team of nurses against the coronavirus.
DOZENS of farmworkers in Spain are awaiting their turn to be vaccinated by a team of nurses against the coronavirus. With Spain being the main provider of fresh fruit and vegetables to the rest of Europe, it is now a race against time to immunise the army of cheap labourers on farms as harvest season looms.
The outbreaks of Covid among farmworkers in the northeastern regions of Aragon and Catalonia last come as a stark warning and the aim is to prevent a repeat of these outbreaks that fuelled a spike in infections and led to localised lockdowns.
Jordi Janes, the mayor of Alcarras, said: “We had a really rough time last year. Municipalities were locked down, fruit packing stations were closed due to the Covid cases,”
“This gives us peace of mind,” he added, as he was standing outside of the vaccination centre that has been set up in the town’s school to vaccinate approximately 400 agribusiness workers.
The farm workers are required to provide identification and the name of their employer upon entering the school to receive their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccination, according to Medical Xpress.
“They have given us all great joy,” said Kelly Johanna Hurtado Marian, a 22-year-old Colombian, who remembers how many of her colleagues contracted the virus last year, continuing that she worked “a lot” to cover her colleagues’ shifts.
The region famous for producing apples, pears and peaches usually employs around 20,000 temporary farmworkers for the harvest season, however, that number has soared due to the pandemic hitting the economy and forcing people out of work.
Many of the workers were illegal immigrants who ended up living on the streets or in small housing facilities that made the transmission of the virus even more of a risk and it is looking as though there could be a repeat of this if action isn’t taken quickly.
“These people are here, sleeping in the streets, without being able to wash up and it is really easy for them to get infected. And that is a time bomb,” Josep Maria Companys, a 61-year-old local farmer said.
“If they are vaccinated here, they will already be immunised when they move on to other parts of the country,” he added, as he watched his workers among the fruit trees.
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