They weren’t eligible for the vaccine or they simply couldn’t leave work to stand in line.
So UC San Diego Health and the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce took hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines to them this week.
“These are the workers that haven’t stopped,” said Alejandra Mier y Teran, the chamber’s executive director.
Mier y Teran said roughly 3,000 people work in warehouses and trucking services in Otay Mesa. She said they’re responsible for delivering food and goods throughout San Diego County and the nation.
“We’re responsible to feed America,” said Jose Valencia, vice-president of human resources for the Jensen Meat Company.
Valencia said that for seven straight months in 2020, Jensen’s 600 employees worked different shifts to keep their facility running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Otay Mesa is a mecca of the food industry in San Diego,” Valencia said.
That hard work was shadowed at hundreds of other warehouses and businesses along the border with Mexico, though. Valencia said most of the workers either weren’t eligible for the vaccine or never had time to stand in line.
“I think it’s kind of been a train wreck,” Valencia said with a sigh.
“We’re superexcited,” Mier y Teran told NBC 7 on Thursday.
UC San Diego Health set up a mobile vaccine unit in a new parking lot every day, and Otay Mesa’s essential workers registered for appointments. Mier y Teran said they were able to put shots in more than 1,200 vital arms.
“We have to be importing medical equipment at the Otay Port,” Mier y Teran said, smiling. “Certainly, our important food cluster feeding all of us!”
Valencia said he was happy he and his coworkers were vaccinated Thursday. Otay Mesa workers should have been in line a lot sooner, though, he said.
“I want to protect my family and at the end, I want to protect myself,” Valencia said.
Valencia said he wanted the workers protected the most, however, because their job is so important to the country.