‘Listen to us’: San Joaquin County pushes back on Blue Shield vaccination takeover

Local News

STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) – San Joaquin County is pushing back against the state’s decision to allow Blue Shield of California to take over statewide vaccination efforts. 

Supervisor Tom Patti, chairman of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, said the county government is fighting for control.

“Locally, we understand our population better than anyone else,” he said. “Listen to us, we do have the ability to take care of our citizens. We don’t need a big brother.”

According to Patti, San Joaquin County had already built the most advanced vaccine program in the state that could identify people in the community most at-risk of hospitalization or death due to COVID-19.

“We are way ahead of the game,” Patti explained. “We are so far advanced and ready to not only mobilize but vaccinate our most vulnerable population.”

He said 40,000 people signed up and registered to be vaccinated, only for Blue Shield to implement a new sign-up process, forcing people to register all over again.

“We went from having a Mercedes-Benz to having a broken-down 1945 vehicle. It’s just, this isn’t even worth having,” Patti told FOX40.

Patti confirmed San Joaquin County has joined other counties across the state in negotiations with Blue Shield to opt-out of their vaccine network. He told FOX40 he believes they can do a better job than Blue Shield.

“We have health equity. We have distribution. We have, you know, large- or small-scale vaccination events that we can host openly,” Patti explained. “We just need supply. Do not hold us hostage.”

In a statement to FOX40, Blue Shield said the following:

We continue to make significant progress in supporting the state’s goal of providing vaccines to all Californians equitably and as quickly as possible, especially for communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic. 

On Friday, we shared with the state’s Community Vaccine Advisory Committee the following update:

– there are already more than 1,000 vaccination sites in the third party administrator network; 

– all multi-county entities have contracted except for one;

– OptumServe locations are being expanded;

– Federally Qualified Health Clinics (FQHCs) in the Wave 1 counties have contracted; 

– we are finalizing details with options for home bound residents and Californians with disabilities; and 

– we are finalizing agreements with counties, including equity plans that engage community-based organizations.

It is important to note that during this transition period, the providers already administering the vaccine will continue to receive doses to ensure vaccines are available to as many Californians as possible equitably, efficiently and safely. Our aim is to enhance the state network to support the state’s goal to increase its capacity and be able to administer 4 million doses a week – and we are well on our way to meeting that milestone. 

We continue to work diligently to have as many eligible providers participate in the enhanced network including Federally Qualified Health Clinics (FQHCs), community clinics, multi-county entities, hospital systems, medical groups, pharmacies and others. Together, our goal is to build a network that reaches every corner of our state, especially those communities that have been hardest hit by this pandemic.

Erika Conner, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications Blue Shield California

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