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Press Release

Pilot Program Aims to Quickly Vaccinate Vulnerable Seniors

Board-approved COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Pilot Program to reach nearly 20,000 members

ORANGE, Calif. (February 5, 2021)

CalOptima seniors age 65 or older may receive the COVID-19 vaccine within the next few weeks through the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Pilot Program, a joint effort between CalOptima and the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Pilot Program, designed to improve direct access to vaccinations for CalOptima members who live in the hardest-hit communities by the pandemic, was first introduced by Supervisor Andrew Do and Supervisor Doug Chaffee and approved unanimously by the Orange County Board of Supervisors on January 26, 2021.

Yesterday, CalOptima’s Board of Directors approved an action to accept a direct allocation of COVID-19 vaccines from the Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA) on behalf of contracted health networks that will handle the vaccine administration to vulnerable CalOptima members who are 65 years or older.

“The COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Pilot Program prioritizes our most vulnerable CalOptima members, most of whom lack access to the internet, for direct access to receive their vaccine,” said Supervisor Andrew Do, Chairman of the CalOptima Board of Directors and Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. “Right now, our focus is getting our seniors vaccinated as soon as possible. The program will eventually expand to meet the State’s tiered vaccine process to ensure communities impacted by the pandemic get direct access to vaccinations.”

CalOptima and health networks will engage seniors through trusted community messengers and will develop vaccine-related information in linguistically and culturally appropriate ways.

“CalOptima was founded specifically to serve the underserved, and this pilot reflects our mission at its core,” said Richard Sanchez, Chief Executive Officer. “In partnership with the County, CalOptima has created an equitable system to deliver 7,000 vaccines per week to providers who can reach out to members most in need. These and all vaccinations will provide hope to stop the spread of COVID-19 and restore the health of our community.”

To date, CalOptima has already vaccinated approximately 75% of the frail participants in our Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Two vaccination events were held on January 21 and 28 through a partnership among CalOptima, the HCA, Mercy Pharmacy Group and Othena, driven by the critical need to protect PACE participants. “HCA appreciates our partnership with CalOptima PACE on behalf of these vulnerable senior members,” said Clayton Chau, M.D., Ph.D., Orange County Health Officer, HCA Director and CalOptima Board Member. “Prioritizing this population was critical because they have serious, chronic health conditions that would qualify them for nursing home care if not for the comprehensive services of PACE.”

In support of members who reside in long-term care facilities, CalOptima staff are now collecting data from nursing homes about vaccination rates. As of January 26, with 52 of 70 facilities reporting, more than 2,600 CalOptima members residing in nursing homes have been vaccinated, out of a total population of about 3,200 members.

About CalOptima

A county organized health system, CalOptima provides publicly funded health care coverage for low-income children, adults, seniors and people with disabilities in Orange County, California. CalOptima’s mission is to provide members with access to quality health care services delivered in a cost-effective and compassionate manner. In total, CalOptima serves more than 800,000 members with a network of 9,000 primary care doctors and specialists as well as 38 acute and rehab hospitals.

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