By CBSLA Staff

LA VERNE (CBSLA) — California has announced a new COVID-19 vaccination strategy in an effort to rein in the pandemic and get businesses and schools reopened.

“I’ve had it myself,” Victor Fernandez, a Baldwin Park resident, said. “I’ve had friends who’ve had it. I’ve lost two coworkers.”

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Fernandez is part of a community that Gov. Gavin Newsom said has been the hardest hit by the pandemic.

“Over the last year, 55% of those that have tested positive in this state happen to be Latino — 46% of the deaths happen to be Latino,” Newsom said.

That disparity is why the state is shifting its strategy for distributing vaccines, a shift that will see 40% of available vaccine doses directed to some of the state’s most underserved communities.

Some of the 400 ZIP codes targeted are along the 10 Freeway, east of the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds — a site that has been converted to distribute vaccines.

“It was amazing,” Stephanie Castellano, a waitress who just got her vaccine, said. “It was very organized.”

Castellano and her husband, Phillip, said they were also very familiar with the impacts of the virus.

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“We were all infected, our whole household,” Phillip said.

According to Newsom, the new strategy is designed to inoculate people who work in agriculture, hospitality and the food industry in an effort to allow for faster reopening.

“You can’t safely reopen our economy until we get this disease behind us,” he said. “We can’t honestly do that unless we address those communities that are disproportionately vulnerable.”

Fernandez said he believes everyone can benefit from a “trickle up” approach that starts with essential workers.

“They’re the ones keeping this country going right now,” he said. “People making the minimum wage are the ones keeping this place together.”

Newsom said nearly 100 Spanish-language radio stations have been part of an outreach program to educate people about the free vaccination process and the fact that legal status is not a factor in who can receive a shot.

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In Los Angeles County, anyone who lives or works in the county and is eligible under the tier system can make an appointment to get vaccinated.