Santa Clara County opts out of state vaccine program

A lack of trust over who's in charge of the state's COVID-19 vaccine distribution is leading to more trouble for embattled California Gov. Gavin Newsom. The majority of counties have not yet signed up for his state-run 'My Turn' vaccination plan.

"I have concerns about it, and those are concerns I’ve also raised at a state level," said Cindy Chavez, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

The uneasy feeling and a loss of control over vaccine distribution has led Santa Clara County officials who have said they will not sign a contract with the state’s administrator, Blue Shield of California.

Under the My Turn plan advanced by Gov. Newsom, Blue Shield will be in charge of who gets vaccinated, and when.

Some experts say a coordinated approach has been problematic locally and nationally.

"I could see a rational for getting a centralized authority to try and take over," said Dr. Jessica Holzer, undergraduate health sciences program director at the University of New Haven.

A take-over is exactly what’s giving many county executives a bad case of nerves. So far, only Kern County has signed with Blue Shield. That county’s public health director says leadership felt pressured to do so, or face dire consequences.

"Without a lot of knowledge, without a lot of control, counties are forced to go under this third-party administrator. And it does seem very authoritarian," said Brynn Carrigan.

Added Dr. Holzer, "A state-wide protocol is just not going to meet all the needs of everyone in their county."

For now Kern County stands alone, as all others, at this point are keeping control in their own hands.

"The last thing I think we wanna do is penalize any community for doing a good job," said Chavez.

Blue Shield of California issued a statement that reads in part, "Our goal is to save lives by helping to provide all Californians equitable access to the vaccines…We continue to work diligently….to build an enhanced state vaccine network to increase capacity…to administer 4 million doses a week."

Blue Shield says counties can still administer vaccines during the transition period, but it’s not clear if officials will still be allowed to do so if they don’t sign a contract with them, and the My Turn system is up and running across the state.