Insurance company Blue Shield of California has been tapped by the governor’s office to help oversee the statewide distribution of COVID-19 vaccine. The move is part of an effort to streamline, centralize–and, ultimately, speed–the state’s vaccine rollout.
In the early days of the rollout, individual local governments and public health departments were tasked with much of the responsibility, and developed a patchwork of varying systems and protocols. That created confusion and, some critics claimed, may have contributed to the slow rate of vaccination in the state.
On Tuesday, state public health officials announced that California Government Operations Secretary Yolanda Richardson would be stepping in to take on a greater role in the distribution process, and, as part of that role, would be bringing in a private third party partner to help facilitate the massive effort.
This afternoon, a spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times that Blue Cross has been selected as that partner. The transition to their oversight of the project will take place over the course of the next several weeks.
Details of Blue Shield’s role are being confirmed, but are expected to involve creating a statewide system for vaccination requests, enforcing statewide guidelines for eligibility, and overseeing all the locations that are administering shots to make sure doses are distributed appropriately and quick changes can be made to deliver vaccine to those who need it most.
“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,” company spokesman Matthew Yi told the Times. “We are finalizing the details with the state on our role and look forward to working with healthcare professions to beat COVID-19.”
Kaiser Permanente will run its own vaccination program for the 9 million California residents that are members of its HMO.