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Questions Remain as State Rolls Out New COVID-19 Vaccine System

With the new COVID-19 vaccine distribution system rolling out this week, the state and Blue Shield, the third-party administrator (TPA), have yet to release many details about the network.

Tasked with smoothing out and tracking the distribution and appointment-making process, Blue Shield is following the state’s guidance to prioritize safety, equity, and the fastest possible administration of the vaccine.

But, despite the state’s best efforts, lots of questions remain. Many of your hospitals have significant concerns with the Blue Shield contract and are hesitant to sign it. At the same time, IT challenges and the interface with the state’s My Turn app have caused apprehension among some members, especially hospitals that have been up and running with vaccinations for months now — handling registration, scheduling, and documenting via an electronic health record system.

Talks with the state, Blue Shield, and CHA remain ongoing as we work to sort out issues with the TPA. Throughout the conversations, CHA and Hospital Council have repeatedly emphasized the need for a system that enhances vaccine distribution and makes it easier for providers to get shots into the arms of Californians.

Hospitals remain committed to doing what’s in the best interest of patients — and need processes that are more efficient and effective. That means fewer bureaucratic barriers to the vaccine and an enhanced supply in the state.

Even as the discussions continue, hospitals are moving forward with promoting vaccinations among staff and within their communities. This is one of the reasons COVID-19 case numbers are declining, and for the first time in months we are seeing the real impact on hospitals.

With hospitalizations on the decline across the state, the numbers are certainly moving in the right direction. In addition, vaccinations have been trending higher — on Monday Gov. Gavin Newsom announced over 7.4 million doses have been administered.

While bad weather throughout much of the country last week resulted in a short-term setback, as many providers were forced to cancel appointments and mass vaccination clinics due to shipment delays, it appears that deliveries will be back on track this week. But with ever-changing guidance and prioritization on vaccines, before this is all over, we’ll likely see even more shifts in how the vaccine is distributed.

As many parts of the country remain in the middle of winter, California is experiencing spring — flowers, warmth, and the itch for people to get out of their houses and return to normalcy. We know the only way forward is the vaccine, and hospitals are committed to doing their best to ensure that it is distributed quickly and equitably.