Alyssa Suarez

Project title: COVID-19 Awareness and Behavior Among Hispanic Dairy Farm Workers and Community Dwellers in the Yakima Valley

Degree: MS (Thesis) | Program: Environmental Public Health (EPH) | Project type: Thesis/Dissertation
Completed in: 2023 | Faculty advisor: Peter Rabinowitz


The COVID-19 pandemic had differential impacts on vulnerable populations, including US individuals of Hispanic descent and certain working populations. Despite this, there are gaps in scientific knowledge regarding risk factors for infection in such vulnerable populations. We performed a cross-sectional analysis of attitudes and behavior related to COVID-19 in 28 Hispanic dairy workers and 16 Hispanic community dwellers using a questionnaire and determined SARS Co-V-2 infection status. We examined differences between reported episodes of COVID-19 infections and antibody positivity among these subjects and used a multivariable analysis to analyze factors associated with vaccine hesitancy, using adjusted models for potential confounders, including primary language and education level. This research revealed a significant association in IgM antibody positivity between dairy workers and community controls, with 28.57% of dairy workers testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 IgM antibodies compared to none of the community controls. This suggests a potential higher likelihood of COVID-19 exposure among dairy workers or a stronger response to vaccinations. Language preference was found to be a significant factor, with all dairy workers preferring Spanish, indicating a potential language barrier that could contribute to disparities in COVID-19 outcomes. Additionally, both dairy workers and community controls exhibited considerable vaccine hesitancy, with older individuals showing higher levels of hesitancy, consistent with previous research on migrant worker populations. Language preference, education level, and worker status did not show significant associations with vaccine hesitancy.