California’s Blue Shield, a health insurance company, has been appointed as the outside administrator responsible for monitoring and guiding the state’s coronavirus vaccine system, the state’s health agency said.

State officials have struggled to acquire enough doses of the coronavirus vaccine to inoculate its nearly 40 million residents. The aim of Blue Shield’s addition to the team is to “create, contract with, and manage a statewide vaccine administration network.”

Vaccine Distribution Management

The company is also responsible for the allocation of doses to California’s county public health departments, hospitals, and pharmacies.

California State Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Monday a more efficient vaccination program where state officials play a more crucial role in controlling the distribution of the vaccine.

Yolo County officials announced that it would start vaccination of residents who were at least 75 years old in February. Authorities said the age group is at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms of the COVID-19 virus or even losing their lives.

Despite Newsom announcing earlier this month that local leaders could begin vaccination of residents who were at least 65 years old, Yolo officials prioritized those aged 75 years and older. Additionally, authorities focused on those who lived in underserved communities while vaccine supply remains low.

“We are receiving doses in very limited quantities. These doses need to be directed where they can save the most lives. The data in Yolo County show that residents 75 years and older are most likely to die from COVID-19,” Dr. Aimee Sisson, Yolo County’s public health officer, said.

Yolo residents are encouraged to first talk with their health care provider first about their options in getting the coronavirus vaccine. Several private health care providers are administering the treatment, including Sutter Health, UC David Health, Dignity Health, and Kaiser Permanente. However, authorities warn that while supplies are limited, appointments could be delayed.

Recently, Newsom signed an executive order that confirmed the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine was under a current state law. The law shields health care workers and providers from being legally liable when they are asked to provide services during a state of emergency.

Additionally, Newsom’s order requires the Department of Consumer Affairs’ disciplinary bodies to prioritize investigations of medical professionals who allegedly sell vaccine doses for their own profit, ABC10 reported.

San Joaquin County hospitals revealed on Wednesday that demand for their intensive care unit beds were still high. Authorities said that ICUs in the county were operating at 141% of their capacities and that hospitals have recorded seven deaths in the last 24 hours. However, officials said the weekly hospitalization rate of COVID-19 patients decreased by 18.3%.