Sonoma County to hand over vaccine distribution to state administrator Blue Shield

By Katherine Minkiewicz, Staff Writer, Sonoma West Times & News, February 25, 2021

blue shield vaccination

Starting March 7 Blue Shield, the state’s third-party COVID-19 vaccine administrator, will be taking over as Sonoma County’s vaccine distributor.

The change will not affect how the county currently has its vaccine distribution set up and Blue Shield has indicated that it will not change the county’s current vaccine providers, according to Ken Tasseff, a county vaccine admin.

“We will lose some control over the vaccine, but one of the things that’s happened is we’ve had discussions with Blue Shield, and they said they are interested in our advice on how the vaccine is allocated within our county. They know that we’re the experts on where it should go and we’re also the experts on ensuring the equity plan is in place, so we’ll be advising on that along with the distribution and integrity of the vaccine. We’re also recommending the providers to be contracted and we’ll be coordinating provider collaboration and communication,” Tasseff said.

While Blue Shield will be the one allocating the vaccine to the county from the state’s allocation, the county will still have a role in advising Blue Shield when needed and making sure the county’s vaccine equity plan is in place.

As of Feb. 23, the county has administered 123,609 doses of the COVID vaccine, 66,807 residents have received their first dose and 28,401 have received their second dose.

In terms of other changes, District 4 Supervisor James Gore, who’s also the president of the California State Association of Counties, said he anticipates that the tier system — purple, red, orange and yellow — of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy reopening plan will be amended.

Gore said the state association of counties has been advocating for the tier system to be amended to reflect vaccination metrics.

“This is extremely important. Why? Because testing has completely changed. Dr. (Sundari) Mase and others can attest to this. Before it was much easier to get testing to certain degrees because we had what I would call ‘frequent flyers’ — healthcare workers, people who were working in high contact jobs and other vulnerable individuals who were getting tested a lot to make sure they were safe. Those same individuals are getting vaccinated first and so aren’t going back to the same testing regime as before. If we drop low in terms of the number of tests that are out there then it affects the multiplier that the state utilizes to evaluate our actual versus our adjusted (case rate) numbers and so that can hold us back from reopening safely,” Gore said.

This why the county health officer Mase has been frequently reminding folks to continue to get tested.

Continued testing is also important for folks who might have COVID and are asymptomatic or for folks who think they have been in close contact with some who tested positive for COVID-19 or someone who was exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual.

The county’s current overall testing positivity rate is 4.6% and the testing positivity in the lowest quartile of the Healthy Places Index is 7.7%, a slight uptick from last week when it was around 5.5%.

The county’s adjusted case rate per 100,000 people per day is 14.

To view coronavirus data, make a vaccine appointment, or look for a COVID testing site, visit: https://socoemergency.org/emergency/novel-coronavirus/?v=1

This article was produced by Sonoma West Times & News, the hometown newspaper of Sebastopol and west county since 1889. See more news at sonomawest.com