Kaiser Accuses Santa Clara Co. of Leaving Prospective Vaccine Recipients ‘in Limbo’

Kaiser Permanente has called on regulators to investigate Santa Clara County’s coronavirus vaccine distribution, claiming local health officials ran afoul of the law when they canceled appointments for thousands of members of the Bay Area hospital chain.

The Oakland-based healthcare network spelled out its grievances in a lengthy series of tweets over the past few days, announcing that it filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over the county’s alleged wrongdoing.

In a Twitter thread Saturday, the hospital chain slammed the county for “unilaterally” canceling second doses for 7,556 Kaiser members, calling it a “direct violation” of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rules prohibiting vaccine providers from denying vaccination based on recipients’ “coverage or network status.”

Kaiser officials called the county’s explanation for the sudden cancelations “grossly misleading,” saying most vaccine providers allocate both first and second doses “to ensure we can fulfill our commitment to every person we vaccinate.”

“By contrast,” the Twitter thread went on to say, “Santa Clara County has created this issue for itself and thousands of its vaccine patients by not accounting for second doses.”

Under state and federal rules, Kaiser wrote, vaccines are allotted so that first and second doses ship to the same vaccination location.

“So,” the hospital company continued, “Santa Clara County received the doses for these Kaiser Permanente members’ second vaccinations but chose to give them to others, targeting individuals with Kaiser Permanente coverage for cancelation.”

Kaiser officials said they told the county that all its vaccines were already booked out, to members and non-members alike, and that the company had none left to allocate.

Further, the hospital chain alleged, the county lied to patients about having coordinated the mass cancelations with Kaiser.

“In fact,” Kaiser stated in the same weekend Twitter thread, “the county initially failed to send us the names of the patients whose appointments they had cancelled, which risked leaving these thousands of people in confused limbo.”

County officials denied doing anything wrong, saying it was “forced” to transfer several thousands of appointments back to Kaiser.

“We know this situation has created many challenges for the patients whose appointments were transferred, and of course the county did everything it could to avoid this situation,” public health spokespeople told San Jose Inside in an email.

They added: “But the county was surprised by the tone and inaccurate content of Kaiser’s recent public statements, particularly after Kaiser declined the county’s request for Kaiser to transfer excess doses of vaccine to the county so it would have the supplies needed to continue serving Kaiser these members. The county had previously provided Kaiser 8,000 doses of vaccine when it faced a similar shortage, and Kaiser declined to reciprocate even though it had adequate vaccine inventory to do so.”

Kaiser’s claims that the county violated CDC rules “is false,” officials said.

“The county has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure robust access to vaccination for all county residents, including for Kaiser members when Kaiser did not offer those members appointments itself,” county officials wrote.

“And unlike Kaiser, the county has focused particularly on community members who have been disproportionally affected by Covid-19.”

Kaiser concluded its Twitter thread over the weekend by saying about a quarter of the 400,000 vaccinations its administering each week are going to non-members, that it’s “steadfastly committed to fighting this crisis together” and that it hopes the county returns to “a collaborative approach.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

10 Comments

  1. There are many noble dedicated public servants working for the County of Santa Clara. Unfortunately, County Executive Jeff Smith has been “grossly misleading” since he began working here. For years, he has been lying or makes ridiculous assertions, only to dial back later or tell people they misunderstood him.

    How he is still County Executive is baffling. He behaves like he is still an elected official himself, which is why he’s always in front of a press microphone.

    Hope Ms. Wadsworth files a Public Records Act request to see the emails and texts between the County and Kaiser, between the County and state officials, and the County and Blue Shield to reveal the true stories on why our County isn’t getting vaccine supply. Jeff probably screwed it all up.

  2. My husband and I are Kaiser members, 69 and 73 years old. Kaiser cancelled our 1/31 appointments for a first vaccine and were told we were not eligible for new appointments. Immediately we looked upon Santa Clara Public Health and we’re able to get appointments right away at one of their sites. Thanks to Santa Clara County, we are fully vaccinated and able to hug our grandchildren.

  3. One thing I learned when suing and subsequently settling with the County, it’s that Jeff Smith and company are woefully inept at decision making, developing, implementing and following sound policy. In the epicenter of Woke culture, their distain for state and federal laws abound. Feckless comes to mind when I think of jimmy W and Jeffy S.

    Kudos to Kaiser for putting these bozos on blast.

  4. While I know someone who was caught up in all of this, Kaiser has no credibility. My 89 year old mother could not get any information out of Kaiser as to when she could be vaccinated so we skipped them and went to the County. It went without a hitch and only then did we get any info from Kaiser. They shouldn’t be tweeting such important issues anyway. Instead they should get their act together and actually help people. I found the County to be on top of testing when I needed it, and the vaccine.

  5. Saucer of milk for two?
    Love seeing these two Marxist organizations fighting over who gets to virtue signal the most.

  6. I am fighting cancer and just checked SC county, my hospital, and all drug stores and they aren’t accepting appointments at all at this time.

  7. I don’t know who is more truthful but as a Kaiser member, I had no info on how to schedule a vaccine appointment thru Kaiser until my turn last week. The only way I can schedule now is thru a link in my account when I log in Kaiser system. So I am skeptical of Kaiser saying they have been vaccinating nonmembers, given it is already so hard to get to just making appointment from inside a member’s account. I also heard a recently retired 65 yo Kaiser doctor and his 65yo wife got their vaccines within days after the county opened up for 65+ while Kaiser system only allowed 75yo+ to schedule. So I am also skeptical of Kaiser allocating vaccines to ordinary members according to their eligibility.

  8. Meanwhile people died and are dying.
    These people should all be ashamed of themselves for playing politics with our lives.

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