Blue Shield to oversee California COVID-19 vaccination effort

Following a volatile rollout of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a far-reaching agreement with Blue Shield of California to oversee the delivery of vaccination doses to health insurance company’s counties, pharmacies, and private health care. Have done the provider.

The decision is a sharp turn away from a more decentralized process that has been criticized for inconsistencies in state territories and slowness in California’s vaccination effort. It would also mean outsourcing of works that have been supervised by state and local government officials till now.

“We understand that the supply of the vaccine is limited,” state government operations secretary Yolanda Richardson said on Tuesday. “But we also need to address how much of the supply we need now needs to be administered as quickly as possible, so we are developing an approach that allows us to do just that.”

On Tuesday, officials announced their intention to build a statewide vaccine distribution network, but refused to identify Blue Shield until Wednesday as the company would be placed in charge of the program. A spokeswoman for the California Department of Public Health said Wednesday that the contract was expected to be finalized soon and that the transition to oversight would take several weeks.

Kaiser Permanente, a health maintenance organization that provides services to more than 9 million Californians, will run a separate immunization program for its members and provide additional support to the state, a public health spokesman said.

With Blue Shield as the statewide vaccine administrator, nonprofit employees will be tasked with managing vaccination requests and dispensing, using new guidelines from state officials to determine the order in which California to vaccinate Will be eligible. Those guidelines are expected to waive some of the state’s more broad categories of eligibility for employment, rather than being deemed largely based on age. State officials said the new system states that the new system will bring in equity for a COVID-19 vaccine delivery process that has thus far been fixed where the people of California live.

Richardson said on Tuesday, “We want to make sure that there is nothing lacking in the administration of the vaccine, because of what speed the vaccine comes into the state.”

The new statewide vaccine distribution network Overside by Blue Shield will include a variety of locations at which vaccinations will be conducted, including pharmacies, community health centers and temporary pop-up locations. State officials said the system would focus on proper delivery of the vaccine dose and allow for quicker adjustments as needed.

How Blue Shield was chosen for its powerful new role in California’s vaccine strategy – and the specific terms of its contract with the state – was not immediately clear. The Oakland-based healthcare provider serves some 4 million Californians and has been deeply involved in the Newsom administration’s epidemic response efforts since last April, helping to improve COVID-19 testing efforts last April following the state’s disastrous start Is included. The company’s chief executive, Paul Markovich, served as co-chairman of the governor’s test task force, and some of the company’s employees also worked in the effort.

Blue Shield’s connections to the news are not limited to policy. The healthcare company, a major player in California’s political campaigns, spent more than $ 1 million in support of Newsome’s campaign in 2018 and nearly $ 1.3 million in lobbying for state government in the most recent legislative session.

A Blue Shield spokesman said Wednesday that the company is “ready to help dramatically expand the vaccination rate so that all California residents are protected.”

Spokesperson Matthew Yee said, “California’s Blue Shield is invited by the Governor to play an important role in helping save lives and ward off this epidemic.” “We are finalizing details with the state on our role and look forward to working with healthcare businesses to beat COVID-19.”

California has struggled to obtain adequate COVID-19 vaccine doses, which prompted some providers to be cautious about administering the doses that they have. Data reporting problems have hampered the state’s ability to understand the reasons behind some of California’s immunization challenges.

“We don’t have a California implementation right now, we have dozens or hundreds when we consider counties and all the various providers,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of the advocacy group Health Access California. “We are currently working with a fragmented health system, where a public health system fills in the gaps. It is really important to have better data for a comprehensive system where problems can be identified. “

Last week, state officials said it could take up to June to provide vaccination to all those 65 and older. Los Angeles County estimated that all residents would be offered vaccinations by 2022 until additional supplies were available.

Newsom has attempted to rehabilitate the state’s tough start to mass vaccination to “hold me accountable” to Californians, with the goal of delivering 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in 10 days. When the state retreated to the target due to data collection problems, it was unable to say definitively whether Newsom met its target.

Amid efforts to get the state’s residents vaccinated, Newsom unveiled the website My Turn to help California residents schedule appointments when they are eligible for vaccination and track better immunization data for California .

As of Wednesday, 2.7 million doses statewide or 57% of the vaccine supply on hand were reported to be administered in the state, though officials warned that data delays continue to affect that tally.

Two days after Newsom reached an agreement with Blue Shield on Wednesday, saying the way Californians are prioritized in the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations is based on age rather than occupation that the state considers more risky Will stop focusing. The shift does not change, first in front of the line under the tiering system – health workers and residents 65 and older, followed by teachers, farmworkers and first responders.

Disability rights groups and unions representing job sectors, which will no longer be prioritized by the state’s new plan, state that a purely age-based system is not a replacement for risk-based tiering.

Bob Schoonover, president of the Service Employees International Union California, said the shift to age-based decisions on occupational risks at the next tier run counter to research that shows that workplaces are a major source of proliferation.

Schoonover said in a statement, “Millions of working Californians, most of whom are people of color, have no choice but to leave their homes and work every day. To themselves, their families, and their communities, and COVID- Has destroyed 19 “.

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