Blue Shield meets with Bay Area counties to discuss vaccine allocation

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Several Bay Area counties met with Blue Shield Wednesday to discuss how the statewide vaccination network will impact vaccine distribution.

Most of the Bay Area will be in the last wave to be considered for additional doses due to COVID cases and deaths being relatively low in comparison to the rest of California.

All counties will still be receiving vaccines while this transition is taking place.

Here's when Bay Area counties will begin the transition:

Wave 2 - March 7

  • Solano County

  • Sonoma County

Wave 3 - March 14

  • San Francisco County

  • San Mateo County

  • Santa Clara County

  • Napa County

  • Marin County

  • Alameda County

  • Contra Costa County

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"We are making sure we are vaccinating people in the right sequence," said Blue Shield CEO Paul Markovich.

Markovich explains the company is using an algorithm that determines dose allocation for providers based on infection rates and vulnerable demographic areas.

EXCLUSIVE: Blue Shield CEO explains plan to increase CA's vaccine doses to 4M per week
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Blue Shield plans to increase California's capacity for delivery of COVID-19 vaccines from 1 million doses per week to 4 million doses per week.

"What is the infection rate for COVID-19 as a percentage of the population? What's the death rate for COVID-19 as a population? What percentage of the population lives in the lowest quartile healthy places index track?" Markovich said. "Because we know they are at the highest risk."

Blue Shield does not have the authority to determine how much vaccine allocation goes to certain providers, but will make informed recommendations to the state, the company confirmed.

"They the state decide whether to take that recommendation or adjust it," said Markovich.

Ultimately, more vaccine doses will be allotted to counties or providers with a larger eligible population. It raises the question, will counties that have already vaccinated a majority of their 65+ population receive less? It's unclear, but Blue Shield says the formula will keep changing as priorities do.

RELATED: A first look at Blue Shield's plan to take over California's vaccine distribution

"So at some point in the future, for example, we hope to have vaccinated most if not all of the people over the age of 65," Markovich said. "So you're not going to have that be a part of the formula's going to shift and change."

The insurance giant vowed to have three million doses administered per week by March 1. But, Markovich says the state is only receiving half that supply -- the constraint continuing to be supplied.

Blue Shield says in order for California to receive the maximum allotment of doses, there need to be accurate data and inventory checks to ensure the incoming supply can meet the demand. That's why the company is implementing what's called a Performance Management System that will keep tabs on which doses are going to counties and providers and how many are being administered.

Once counties transition to Blue Shield's network, vaccination appointments will still be made through the state's site.

VIDEO: San Mateo Co. officials have 'clarity' concerns with Blue Shield
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As Blue Shield takes over COVID-19 vaccine distribution in California, one Bay Area county says they still have more questions than they have answers, even after a call with the company.

But San Mateo County officials are telling ABC7 News that they are still looking for clarity on their vaccine supply, even after a call with Blue Shield tonight.

"I've heard a lot of talk about transparency. But we haven't fully seen it yet. People aren't going to be very trusting or local health departments are going to have trouble planning, if they don't know what they're getting," said Dr. Mike Wasserman, a member of California's Vaccine Advisory Committee.

Dr. Wasserman says he's not surprised that San Mateo County failed to get more clarity even after a call with Blue Shield.

San Mateo officials told ABC7 news that they still don't know how many vaccine doses will be allotted to them by next week and they did not receive word on a 3-week allocation plan.

"This is what's been concerning me is, there seem to be more questions every day than answers," he said.

ABC7 News Reporter Kris Reyes contributed to this report.

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