Blue Shield meets with local counties to discuss vaccine allocation

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.

Video Transcript

STEPHANIE SIERRA: Over the next few weeks, all nine Bay Area counties will be phased into Blue Shield's vaccination network. Solano and Sonoma County are first, making the transition in wave 2 on March 7. The seven other Bay Area counties transition last in wave 3 on March 14, partly due to having lower rates of COVID cases.

PAUL MARKOVICH: We're vaccinating people in the right sequence.

STEPHANIE SIERRA: Blue Shield CEO Paul Markovich explains the company is using an algorithm that determines dose allocation for counties and providers based on infection rates and vulnerable demographic areas.

PAUL MARKOVICH: What is the infection rate for COVID-19 as a percentage of the population? What's the death rate for COVID-19 as a percentage of the population? What percentage of the population lives in the lowest-quartile healthy places indices tracks? Because we know that they're at the highest risk.

STEPHANIE SIERRA: Markovich pointed out the company does not have the authority to determine how much vaccine allocation goes to certain providers, but will make informed recommendations to the state.

PAUL MARKOVICH: And then they decide whether to take that recommendation or adjust it.

STEPHANIE SIERRA: Ultimately, more vaccine doses will be allotted to counties or providers with a larger eligible population. So will counties that have already vaccinated a majority of their 65-plus population receive less? It's unclear, but Blue Shield says the formula is dynamic and will change.

PAUL MARKOVICH: 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. So you're not going to have that be a part of the formula anymore in the future. So it's going to shift and change.

STEPHANIE SIERRA: 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 amount. The constraint continuing to be supply.

Markovich added, in order for California to receive the maximum allotment of doses, there needs 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 of those doses are being administered. Stephanie Sierra, ABC 7 News.