California will soon outsource vaccine distribution to Blue Shield of California in an effort to ramp up what has been among the poorest vaccine rollouts in the United States.
According to the Los Angeles Times, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) reached an agreement with the California-based health care provider, which will begin to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to pharmacies, community health centers, private providers, counties, and pop-up vaccine administration sites around the state in the coming weeks.
Through a spokesperson, the California Department of Public health confirmed to the San Francisco Chronicle that the state of California will soon finalize its agreement with Blue Shield. At that point, officials plan to reveal more details about the arrangement.
“Blue Shield of California is honored to be invited by the governor to play an important role in helping to save lives and overcome this pandemic,” a Blue Shield spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times in a statement. “We are finalizing the details with the state on our role and look forward to working with healthcare professions to beat COVID-19.”
State officials told The Chronicle that Kaiser Permanente will also have a role in the vaccine distribution effort. Officials hope that, by outsourcing distribution, Californians can receive COVID-19 vaccine shots at a faster rate than the current process.
According to The Associated Press, which compiled the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine data, California has been one of the worst states with regards to administering COVID-19 vaccines. As of January 27, about 5.5% of Californians had received the first vaccine dose. Twelve other states, however, have performed worse on that metric: Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Alabama, South Carolina, Pennsylvania. (CDC data likely lags behind by several days.)
Bloomberg News, which operates a different tracker, shows that as of January 27, 2021, California has administered 50.1% of the COVID-19 vaccine doses they have been given by the federal government. By this metric, however, only ten states have done worse: Idaho, Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Alabama.
“We understand that vaccine supply is limited,” California Government Operations Secretary Yolanda Richardson said earlier this week, reports the Los Angeles Times. “But we also need to address that the supply we have now needs to get administered as quickly as possible, so we’re developing an approach that allows us to [do] just that.”
The Los Angeles Times reports: “With Blue Shield as the statewide vaccine administrator, the nonprofit’s employees will be tasked with managing the flow of vaccination requests and deliveries using new guidelines from state officials that determine the order in which Californians will be eligible to be inoculated. Those guidelines are expected to abandon some of the state’s more detailed categories of eligibility by employment, instead favoring a yet-to-be-explained approach based largely on age.”