Santa Clara County and the California Department of Public Health have reached an agreement that will allow the county to continue working directly with the state on vaccine distribution, rather than through the health insurance company Blue Shield of California.
The state brought in Blue Shield to oversee California's network of COVID-19 vaccine providers in the hopes of speeding up vaccine distribution. But the move was met with resistance from the majority of counties, including most in the Bay Area.
"We already had a strong partnership with the state," Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said about opting out of working with Blue Shield. "For us it seemed like an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy, and that is the last thing we wanted in terms of how we were going to be able to move forward as quickly and efficiently as we possibly could."
Bay Area public health officials and lawmakers have questioned whether the health provider should be coordinating California's vaccine distribution, and balked at other stipulations like having to use the state's MyTurn appointment system, which has experienced glitches.
The memorandum of understanding delays Santa Clara County's transition to MyTurn and allows it to share vaccines with community clinic partners, which had been another point of contention.
In an email, a Blue Shield spokesperson said: "Our priority is to help ensure more Californians have access to COVID-19 vaccines equitably and as quickly as possible and we look forward to working with Santa Clara County."
San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, Napa, Contra Costa and Marin counties are also considering signing the agreement to work directly with the state.