Local Leaders Ask For Volunteers To Help With Vaccination Efforts In Hardest-hit Communities

Latinx seniors in Santa Clara County are the most at-risk community from COVID-19 but the least vaccinated, so local leaders are asking for community help.

On Thursday, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, County Supervisor Cindy Chavez and Gardner Health Services CEO Reymundo Espinoza held a virtual briefing encouraging residents to volunteer and help inform and assist residents eligible for the vaccine.

Spanish-speaking volunteers would be the most needed, Liccardo said, so that they could communicate effectively with the Latinx community.

Of the roughly 144,000 vaccinated residents 65 years and older, Latinx people make up about 12,000 or 8 percent, the mayor noted. However, Latinx people make up 51 percent of COVID-19 cases and 28 percent of deaths.

County data also shows that of residents 65 years and older, only 25 percent of the Latinx population has been vaccinated as opposed to 50 percent of the Asian population and 38 percent of the white population.

Espinoza noted that the reason for the disparity is likely because of misconceptions of vaccine safety or fear of side effects.

“Other things that we’ve heard is difficulty registering for appointments, mobility issues like weather,” Espinoza said. “And I think a historical fear and the distrust of government.”

Chavez worried the reason for the inequity is not fear of vaccine, but rather lack of access.

“There is no cookie-cutter approach when trying to vaccinate a population as economically and culturally diverse as we have in Santa Clara County,” said Chavez.

That means relying on large private health care providers or waiting for residents to book appointments through the county website is not enough.

“We must have mass vaccination centers in large urban areas hard hit by coronavirus and we must go directly to the residents of diverse, disproportionately COVID-infected communities with pop-up vaccinations tents and mobile units,” Chavez said.

But regardless of the reason Latinx seniors are not getting vaccinated, the local officials on the call all agreed: “we need volunteers.”

“We particularly need volunteers who speak Spanish and other languages, who can help us in outreach and to ensure that we are getting information to everyone,” Liccardo said. “So that they can make good decisions and hopefully, so that they can be vaccinated, to protect themselves and their families.”

But anyone who speaks a different language like Vietnamese, or is simply eager to help, is wanted.

Volunteers could do anything from door-to-door outreach, phone calls, staff vaccination sites or help distribute food.

“We’re needing people to get online and be able to talk to their neighbors to get them to come because they want to talk to trusted folks,” Chavez said.

Throughout the pandemic, Liccardo said the city has relied on more than 40,000 volunteers to help in a plethora of ways like directing traffic at testing sites or packing at food banks.

Mass and equitable vaccination is another task that requires community support, he noted, especially as vaccine eligibility expands at the end of the month.

Starting Feb. 28, workers in education and childcare, emergency services, and the food and agriculture industries can get vaccinated.

On March 15, those with at least one severe health condition will also be eligible for the vaccine, at the directive of the state. Health conditions include cancer, stage four or higher kidney disease, pulmonary diseases necessitating oxygen, Down syndrome, a weakened immune system due to an organ transplant, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart conditions like coronary artery disease and cardiomyopathies.

The county has already opened several pop-up and mobile sites around the county and particularly in East San Jose and Gilroy, which have been COVID-19 hot spots.

On Wednesday, a pop-up site at the Gilroy Senior Center opened.

In recent weeks, the county also opened two drop-in sites in San Jose that do not require appointments.

The first is Public Health Story Road Hub at 1775 Story Road: open Wednesday through Friday. Sign-ups start at 9:30 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis.

The second site is the Mexican Heritage Plaza at 1700 Alum Rock Ave., which is open Tuesday through Thursday. Sign-ups start at 9 a.m. also on a first-come, first-served basis and vaccinations are given from 10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

“Vaccination provides the only viable route for us to get to the other side of this pandemic,” said Liccardo. “And we can all play a role in helping our community get access to safe and effective vaccines.”

Those interested in volunteering can sign up at SiliconValleyStrong.org.

For more information on vaccines or to make an appointment, visit sccfreevax.org or call 211.


  1. I fear it is a cultural ‘thing’. They don’t trust us and they don’t want us sticking needles in their illegal arms. Maybe we could tie them down and IV them?

  2. Government tells us to stay away from each other, now they want volunteers to get close to the people with a high per cent of infection.

  3. There are no “illegal arms” and the only people fit to be tied are race-sensitive sociopaths, a number of whom regularly slither onto the San Jose Inside comments section. Maybe Pfeizer or Moderna can work on an ignorance vaccine next? Maybe call it PsychoBlok or KlanVax?

  4. I’m sorry I offended you, Facendo, but for all of your fussing and fuming, you didn’t address my points: 1) Some folks don’t want shots because their arms and other parts are illegally here in my country.
    2) To protect you, me and our community perhaps we should consider them as we do our livestock – they of course don’t like shots either.

    BTW, don’t get too frisky with your name calling. I am an elderly female with a chainsaw attorney.

  5. Facendo. Perhaps if the Democrats hadn’t spent the past six months badmouthing the “Trump” vaccine, more Hispanics would sign up. Propaganda has consequences. ???

    Also, for you white hating racist out there, would you care to comment on why the Asians are getting vaccinated at a higher rate than whites? The Asian community faces many of the same language barriers as Hispanics.

  6. It would be nice if the county would vaccinate the volunteers helping out at the vaccination sites and covid 19 testing sites. But I suppose risking and putting our lives on the line, simply because they are in dire need of volunteers, would be asking for too much?!?

  7. Carolyn: “Your country?” What country might that be? Are you an Ohlone, Chumash, Karok, Maidu, Cahuilleno, Mojave, Yokut, Pomo, Paiute or possibly a Modoc? If not, mind your manners and be respectful (https://www.loc.gov/collections/california-first-person-narratives/articles-and-essays/early-california-history/first-peoples-of-california/). If you are not from among the first peoples, perhaps you can identify the tribe, or at least the species, to which you claim membership. (I’m assuming your attorney is some type of mammal but you can correct me on this.) And do give my regards to Kulak and OutsidetheBubble.

    By the way, the brothers and sisters resident in California and who don’t have formal residency documentation, whether they are from Latin America, Asia or Europe are entitled to public health measures during their stay with us. Such coverage provides protection to the brothers and sisters themselves and, indirectly, to their brothers and sisters who have formal residency in the state (https://www.migrationpolicy.org/data/unauthorized-immigrant-population/state/CA). Jesus would have approved.

    HB: White is not a melanin deficiency, it is a state of mind and a product of legacy and legal practices in this country. The vast majority of Hispanics, for example, self-identify as white (https://prospect.org/civil-rights/latino-flight-whiteness/). Arabs, Iranians, Turks and others from North Africa and Southwest Asia are historically and legally classified as Caucasians in the U.S. and most identify as white (http://copticvoiceus.com/why-are-middle-easterners-classified-as-caucasian/; https://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-census-middle-east-north-africa-race/).

    There are many flavors of white. By this broader definition, you just may be a “white-hating racist” yourself. Would you like to reformulate your uneducated and asinine question?

    Always grateful when Turmpista libertarians can provide impetus, inspiration and eyeballs for educated discussion and debate on issues of public importance.

  8. How utterly obtuse do you have to be type the words “They don’t trust the government” and “Let’s tie them down and IV them” without thinking the two might be related? I know it’s a lot to expect a modicum of critical thinking in internet comments (especially on this site), but common.

  9. Carolyn: Facendo already answered your two points. Every resident should be encouraged to get vaccinations and outreach, like that discussed in the piece by Jana Kadah, is a good way to achieve this. Follow a protocol for messaging and outreach to everyone, augmented by Spanish and Vietnamese speakers and those of other languages, if needed, similar to what was done for the 2020 Census. This is standard public health policy that enhances everyone’s protection and well-being.

    There will always be some element–in both documented and undocumented populations–that rejects vaccinations and strategies to overcome fears and doubts should be developed and deployed. By the same logic, the U.S. government should be offering expanded assistance to other governments to help them with their vaccination campaigns both through the WHO and bilaterally. Mexico would be a very good place to start.

    Beyond this, the only “illegal arms” out there are the arsenals of unregistered guns accumulated by the U.S. population (https://www.ammoland.com/2018/08/hundreds-of-millions-of-u-s-guns-are-unlicensed-and-untraceable/#axzz6nG87hJ8K ). The only livestock I can see is the herd that followed Agent Orange off the cliff with their mentality intact (https://www.quora.com/If-a-large-herd-of-cattle-headed-toward-a-cliff-will-all-the-cattle-in-the-herd-go-over).

  10. Ok I’ll spell it out for you since you really are that obtuse.

    “Why don’t the untermensch trust the government? We need to tie them down like the animals they are!”

    Maybe… just maybe… the latter statement has something to do with the former. Can you tell me what it is?

  11. Facenddeo. You really are a stone cold racist. If America is so bad, why don’t you move to a country you like better? I’ll be happy to pay the airfare.

  12. HBO: The only racists around here are the members of the Howard Jarvis Backlash Fellowship, a small group of sociopaths who frequent the comments section too frequently. You appear to be a junior member, as does newcomer Carolyn.

    Remember, you don’t have to spout anti-Mexican slurs explicitly to be a bigot. Like Carolyn, you can refer to (unnamed) people–“illegally in the country”–and most dogs will hear the whistle, most fellow racists will get the wink and the nod. Or you can compare people to livestock and project an equally maniacal outlook.

    Also, running away from problems is childish and cowardly. Standing one’s ground and tackling problems head on makes for a more fulfilling experience.

    You can use the airfare money for a donation to help immigrants out: https://www.cet-icp.org/. You’ll be glad you did afterwards.

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