Cost to vaccinate Californians rises amid changes to Blue Shield oversight

California
People in vehicles arrive for their COVID-19 vaccine on campus at California State University of Los Angeles on March 4, 2021. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

People in vehicles arrive for their COVID-19 vaccine on campus at California State University of Los Angeles on March 4, 2021. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

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The expected cost of administering COVID-19 vaccines in California grew nearly fourfold from two months ago to $1.3 billion, a price tag made public Thursday as the state also rolls back sweeping changes to its plan to centralize the delivery of doses under a program run by Blue Shield of California, The Times has learned.

In a letter sent by the California Government Operations Agency to counties this week, the state said it would give some decision-making powers back to local public health officials by requiring Blue Shield to consult with a county before making recommendations about how many vaccine doses a jurisdiction should receive.

The letter, which was obtained by The Times, also outlines another major change to the statewide vaccine network. The state previously planned to restrict a county’s ability to provide vaccines to local clinics and healthcare providers, instead leaving decisions about who can administer doses to Blue Shield and state officials. Under the changes memorialized in a letter from Gabriel Ravel, general counsel at the Government Operations Agency, a county could use its discretion — subject to approval from the state — to distribute portions of its vaccine allotment to other providers.

“The state is trying to make a positive step in addressing county concerns,” Santa Clara County Executive Jeff Smith said.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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