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A Fighting Chance

A Fighting Chance

Local boxing hero partners with Kaweah Health to educate the community about COVID-19 vaccination.

In the fall of 2021, Kaweah Health had the highest number of COVID-positive inpatients than any other medical center in the state of California. This was not a surprising statistic given the fact that the medical center serves a region with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state. That’s why Kaweah Health was proud to partner with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Super Heavyweight and Olympic Silver Medalist, Richard “Kiki” Torrez, Jr., to produce an educational marketing campaign promoting the benefits of vaccination.

“I'm an elite athlete so I’m really cautious what I put in my body,” shared Kiki. “I learned about the benefits the vaccine can give you and I learned about the risks of actually getting COVID. Once I started talking to actual doctors and people who knew what they were talking about, that really made a difference.”

Kiki continued. “I'm not one that's going to say you have to take the vaccine. But I am saying get informed about it. I was really nervous about getting the vaccine at first but I got informed and made an educated decision to get the vaccine. Ultimately, getting vaccinated did give me a sense of security. The good outweighed the bad so I’m really happy I took it.”

The pandemic has made a lasting impact on each of our lives. Vaccination is our chance to fight back and get our communities back on track. With Kiki’s encouragement and willingness to share his story, Kaweah Health has a fighting chance at bringing hospitalization rates down and increasing vaccination rates in our region.

To that end, Kiki joined us in the fall of 2021 to host a free COVID-19 vaccine clinic and “meet and greet” event at Kaweah Health Tulare Clinic. The event was open to the public and included free COVID-19 vaccinations, an autograph session with Kiki, light refreshments, a custom boxing glove keychain giveaway, and music provided by local radio stations.

Additionally, Kiki tells his vaccination story in Kaweah Health television commercials, as well as in print advertisements, billboards, and social media—and now the campaign is getting national attention. In January 2022, Kaweah Health presented the final “Fight Back” marketing campaign to the HRSA, and 370 healthcare providers across the U.S. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and as a result, the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) decided to post the educational marketing piece on their national website as an example of a successful campaign.

No matter where he is featured, Kiki’s message is the same: get educated about vaccination.

“COVID affects so many people in so many different ways. You don't know if you're going to be the one on a respiratory system,” Kiki stressed. “One of my favorite quotes is by Gandhi, ‘live as if you were to die today and learn as if you were to live forever.’ So get informed and make the right choice for you.”

As of January 26, 2022, just 237,400 out of 480,000 Tulare County residents were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That is only 49.3% of our total county population. We may still have a long way to go until our region is fully vaccinated but Kaweah Health has seen the positive impact partnering with Kiki has made on the community.

Don’t let COVID knock you out. Get vaxxed and fight back!


How To Get Vaccinated

Safe, free, and effective COVID-19 vaccines are now available to everyone five years of age and up. Schedule your appointment at a Kaweah Health location online by visiting More information about vaccination can also be found at