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California reveals Blue Shield’s vaccine distribution program details


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – California on Monday released details surrounding its contract with Blue Shield to create a statewide COVID-19 vaccine distribution network.

The contract with Blue Shield – effective Monday, Feb. 15 – require vaccines to be available to 95% of Californians within 30 minutes of urban areas and 60 minutes in rural areas.

Governor Newsom’s administration released details that the state is set to pay Blue Shield no more than $15 million for the service.

Blue Shield’s network will include health systems, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, mass vaccination sites, and mobile clinics.

Officials expect 3 million doses per week by March, and 1.4 million per week by the end of April.

According to the contract, the state will pay vaccine providers directly for startup costs, ongoing support, and incentive payments.

Blue Shield will manage monitoring and oversight of vaccine data and report it directly to the state but the state will continue to make it public through its own dashboards.

Overall, state leaders say the contract aims to make vaccine distribution across the state more efficient, accessible, and equitable.

California will establish a monthly percentage goal of vaccinations completed for those in under-resourced or disproportionately impacted parts of the state.

State data showed six million total shots have been administered. The governor says California is now averaging about a million doses a week.

Newsom’s administration has been scrutinized for a slow rollout of its vaccine distribution.

“There’s a lot of confusion up and down the state.”

Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson says he’s looking forward to and is optimistic about the state’s deal with Blue Shield. He says he spoke with Blue Shield officials recently about the plan.

“I have confidence that if they let blue shield do what they do best, we will have comprehensive, clarity, they will unwind and untangle all this confusion. If this works the way I hope it will work. The state will stand back with its bureaucracies and technologies that are failing,” Patterson said. 

The contract ends at the end of the year.

Weeks ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom abruptly announced a more streamlined vaccination system in which the state would play a more centralized role.

Currently, the state allocates doses to county public health departments and hospital and health care networks, but counties say they don’t know what the hospitals have and everyone wants more vaccine.

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