A vaccine is being prepared at the Sharp Grossmont Center COVID-19 super site. Photo by Chris Stone
State officials will allow pediatricians to bypass their cumbersome vaccine management system in an effort to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations for children, CalMatters has learned.
The decision comes because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve vaccines for children ages 12 to 15 as early as next week, adding 2.1 million children to the number of eligible Californians.
The move is a tacit recognition of the problems that the massive $ 50 million MyTurn system poses for physicians and smaller medical groups looking to immunize their patients.
Sami Gallegos, press secretary for California’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, told CalMatters that pediatricians and other doctors treating children will not be forced to use MyTurn to obtain their patients’ vaccines. But she added that the state health department has not yet determined how the doctors will receive the doses.
So far, Blue Shield, which oversees the distribution of vaccines for California, has required most health care providers to sign up, undergo training, and request doses through MyTurn, which is a one-stop shop billed for Californians who plan vaccination wild ones.
Developed at an unusual speed for a government website, MyTurn was hampered by glitches and a design that frustrated Californians. Appointments booked on the site – averaging about 100,000 a day – recently accounted for only about 27% of vaccinations given every day in the state, according to data from the California Department of Public Health.
Blue Shield prioritized mass vaccination sites and major health care providers like Kaiser Permanente before smaller clinics were allowed to receive doses – at least when vaccine doses were scarce. That’s because Blue Shield has to meet ambitious vaccination goals in its contract with the state.
As a result, some doctors have faced delays in signing up to MyTurn to receive doses for their patients.
“It’s frustrating to say the least,” said Steve Escamilla, executive director of Tamalpais Pediatrics, which serves approximately 8,600 children in Marin County. “This was even more difficult than applying for a PPP loan.”
Escamilla told CalMatters that Blue Shield replied that it could take several weeks for his application to be processed when he attempted to enroll the clinic in MyTurn.
When told that pediatricians would soon be allowed to skip MyTurn altogether, he was pleasantly surprised.
“It would be a godsend to bypass the bureaucracy.” Escamilla said. “That’s definitely a game changer for our ability to deliver the vaccine.”
California has nearly 3,500 pediatricians, more than any other state.
Families wishing to vaccinate their children 12 to 15 years old as soon as they qualify can contact their pediatrician or primary care physician. They can also sign up for appointments on their country’s COVID website or the MyTurn site, http://myturn.ca.gov/, or call the state’s COVID hotline at 833-422-4255.
Getting COVID-19 vaccine doses into the hands of pediatricians and other primary care physicians is especially important as children ages 12 to 15 join the millions of Californians who are eligible to be immunized, said Anthony York, California spokesman. Medical Association. Teens ages 16-17 can currently only receive the Pfizer vaccine.
About one-third of doctors in California who administer vaccines for children are enrolled in a separate online system that registers them to obtain non-COVID vaccines, Gallegos said. But many doctors are not enrolled in that system, which is a bureaucratic delay for them, as they would have to join it before they could receive COVID vaccines.
That’s one reason the state allows doctors to bypass MyTurn if they’ve already submitted data to the California Immunization Registry and plan to only vaccinate children 12 to 17 years old, Gallegos said.
She added that many pediatricians work for major health systems, such as Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health, who are already enrolled in MyTurn so that children can access vaccines through them.
CalMatters is a public interest journalism company dedicated to explaining how the California Capitol works and why it matters.