Blue Shield of California to oversee state's COVID-19 vaccine distribution

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Blue Shield of California reached an agreement with Gov. Gavin Newsom to oversee the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Los Angeles Times

Under the agreement, Blue Shield will oversee the state's vaccine rollout to California counties, pharmacies and private healthcare providers, according to the news report. The change marks a shift from a previous distribution strategy run by state and local governments, which was criticized for being inconsistent and slow. 

Blue Shield President and CEO Paul Markovich confirmed in a Jan. 27 statement that the insurer would help with distribution, but provided little information about what that would look like beyond quickly distributing vaccines across California with a focus on disparately affected areas. Under the agreement, Blue Shield will work with Yolanda Richardson, California's secretary of the government operations agency, who leads the state's vaccine team. 

A spokesperson from the California Department of Public Health said Jan. 27 that the contract with Blue Shield should be finalized soon, and the transition in oversight will take several weeks, according to the Los Angeles Times. Terms of the contract weren't released. Separately, Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente will run its own vaccination program for members, as well as provide help to the state.

Blue Shield said it will release more details about its part in the program in coming days.

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