Norma Estevez is a child care provider in Salinas who was eager to get the Covid-19 vaccine. But when she became eligible on Feb. 17, it was almost impossible to schedule an appointment. With the help of Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, Monterey County Office of Education and First 5 Monterey, she was able to get the first shot on March 5. She says she already feels safer.
“I’m exposed working with different families,” Estevez says. The vaccine is “a way to protect ourselves and others.”
Seeing the need to vaccinate child care providers, several organizations and local elected officials worked together to schedule three PODs, or private vaccination clinics, for formal and informal child care providers. The first one was on March 31 in Salinas and there are two more scheduled this month: in Salinas on Saturday, April 17 and in Greenfield on Saturday, April 24. Nonprofit Visiting Nurses Association will administer the vaccines at the pop-up clinics.
Estevez and several members of her family got vaccinated. She and her husband, Sebastian Delgado, both got Covid-19 in December. Delgado is still suffering months later; the virus affected his kidneys, liver and lungs, and it might have affected his heart as well.
The upcoming clinics will serve formal child care providers, like Estevez, and also informal child care providers – family members, neighbors or friends who take care of working parents’ children. “The work that they do is no less important than those people that are doing the work in centralized facilities,” County Supervisor Chris Lopez says, adding that most child care in his South County district is done informally.
Each clinic will have 400 vaccines available and are by appointment only. Once one clinic is filled, appointments for the next one will open. Lopez says many people fear they don’t have documents to prove they are child care providers. “I want them to know that that’s not what matters. What matters is that if you’re doing the work. Get vaccinated. Sign up. You’re eligible.”