A look at how Blues plans are aiming to get their members vaccinated

As a number of states open vaccine eligibility to more adults, Blues insurers across the country are aiming to be a community resource to ensure shots are administered.

Reed Melton, vice president of clinical operations at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA), told Fierce Healthcare that the group's member plans are partnering with regional and community organizations to tackle vaccine hesitancy and support administration efforts.

"We have a full-court press from Honolulu to San Juan," Melton said. 

At the national level, BCBSA has partnered with Feeding America to offer educational materials on COVID-19 vaccines to people at 200 food banks, which can reach 40 million Americans.

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At the regional level, interventions are more targeted, Melton said. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Hawaii, for example, is partnering with local organizations and businesses to collaborate on an online resource for vaccine information.

These educational tools are designed with the latest clinical data and to specifically reach different communities, Melton said.

In a similar vein, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana teamed with local organizations including churches and 100 Black Men of Baton Rouge for a vaccine drive, specifically trying to reach Black residents. Of the about 1,000 vaccines that were administered, 87% of recipients were Black, Melton said.

The insurer and its community partners are now looking at ways to build on this, both to ensure vulnerable communities are getting vaccines and to distribute second doses.

"It's a really great opportunity to get to underserved populations in Louisiana," Melton said.

Other insurers that are playing a key role in operating mass vaccination events include Highmark, which is working with the Pittsburgh Pirates to make PNC Park a vaccine site, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Arizona, which is working with the Arizona Cardinals and other local partners to distribute vaccines at State Farm Stadium.

In addition to mass vaccine sites, Blues plans are bringing vaccines to members in mobile van clinics, Melton said.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, for example, has distributed more than 1,500 Moderna vaccine doses, largely in underserved communities, using a mobile clinic. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas has administered 4,000 doses using a van clinic as well, Melton said.

"We’re excited about the work that’s already been done and how it’s expanding," he said.