Ninety percent of North Carolina's farmworkers are uninsured. The same percentage isn't comfortable speaking English. And they make about $11,000 per year — less than the national average for a farmworker.

That's according to Dr. Gayle Thomas, the medical director of the North Carolina Farm Worker Health Program. She made the comments during a virtual discussion in recognition of National Rural Health Day organized by the state department of health and human services. 

“So that makes it quite clear how they are unable to access health care," said Thomas. "In addition, many have unsafe living conditions, particularly living in very crowded work camps or barracks where there may be six men or more sleeping in a room.”

These living conditions made farmworkers significantly more vulnerable to COVID-19. Thomas said a program in Moore County that made vaccines available to workers upon their arrival in North Carolina has made a big difference. 

“Unfortunately, we've continued to have outbreaks, but they have been much smaller thanks to the vaccination events that took place not only in that central hub but in many, many counties, on farms, in local health departments and community health centers." 

In total, the office has helped to provide about 27,000 vaccinations to the state's farmworkers.

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