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State Awards $15M COVID Vaccine Contract to Blue Shield

An “allocation algorithm” and vaccine provider databases are among the elements of the contract, which will run through the end of the year.

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The state Government Operations Agency (GovOps) has awarded a $15 million contract to Blue Shield of California to build a “statewide network” to administer COVID vaccines.

The “cost reimbursement-only” contract, which runs 55 pages, was initiated Feb. 1 and runs through Dec. 31. It was awarded through the Department of General Services, the state’s procurement agency, and signed by Paul Markovich, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California. The contract was made public Monday. 

“Blue Shield will assist the agency in allocating vaccines directly to providers to maximize distribution efficiency, having timely transparency into where the vaccines are and to whom they have been administered, and ensuring they are distributed to communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” says the contract’s Statement of Work (SOW). “Blue Shield’s services under this agreement do not include providing advice, opinions or recommendations on policy or political matters nor Blue Shield of California providing lobbying on any such matters.”

Blue Shield representatives will also confer with state officials as needed if circumstances or needs change. The company will issue a report at the conclusion of the contract, which also defines certain terms used in the agreement:

  • “Allocation Algorithm” means a formula to be developed, periodically updated and managed by Blue Shield as a recommendation to the agency for the allocation of vaccine to vaccine providers.
  • “Immunization Information Systems,” “IIS” or “State Immunization Registry” refers to the three databases used by vaccine providers to input vaccination information known as CAIR2, SDIR and RIDE.
  • “MyTurn” refers to the online electronic systems available at, including MyTurn, MyTurnClinic and MyTurnVax, established and maintained by the agency to facilitate registering patients onto the vaccine waitlist, scheduling of COVID-19 vaccination appointments, and collection of vaccination orders and administration data from vaccine providers.
  • “Network Performance Criteria” means standards and goals for design and performance of the State Vaccine Network, including in regard to access, equity, inventory management, service, and data analytics and reporting, as set forth in Schedule A to this SOW.
In addition, Blue Shield will develop “model contracts” for the State Vaccine Network.

According to a report in the Sacramento Bee, “The company will be able to bill the state up to $15 million in third-party costs and non-staff costs. That doesn’t include staff time, which Blue Shield will provide for free, according to the contract.”

The contract’s term includes the following parameters, according to the Bee report:

  • 95 percent of urban residents should have to travel no more than half an hour to reach a distribution site. That increases to an hour in rural areas.
  • Vaccines should also be made available to people who can’t leave their homes in all 58 counties.
  • Vaccine providers should administer 95 percent of vaccine doses within a week of receiving them.
  • California should be able to distribute 3 million vaccines per week by March 1, and 4 million per week by April 30, assuming supply is available. 




Dennis Noone is Executive Editor of Industry Insider. He is a career journalist, having worked as a reporter and editor at small-town newspapers and major metropolitan dailies in California, Nevada, Texas and Virginia, including as an editor with USA Today in Washington, D.C. He lives in Northern California.