As COVID-19 vaccinations roll out across the country, the ADA is asking the US Department of Health and Human Services to issue guidance about temporary liability protection for dentists who administer these vaccines under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act.
In its letter to RADM Felicia Collins, MD, MPH, acting assistant secretary for health, the ADA noted the lack of federal efforts in mobilizing dentistry as part of the pool of available COVID-19 vaccinators.
“Dentists already have the requisite knowledge and skills to administer vaccines and observe side effects—and many do so on a daily basis,” said the letter, signed by ADA president Daniel J. Klemmedson, DDS, MD, and executive director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, DMD, MPH.
“Dentists are well educated in human anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology, and are trained to administer intraoral local anesthesia,” the letter continued. “It is arguably more difficult to administer an inferior alveolar nerve block inside the oral cavity than to vaccinate an exposed arm and manage any side effects.”
Illinois, Minnesota, and Oregon allowed dentists to administer the seasonal influenza vaccine before the pandemic. Now, the ADA noted, at least 19 states have enlisted dentists to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, with another nine states and the District of Columbia discussing similar measures.
According to the ADA, 65% of dental patients scheduled for a routine dental visit are willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine from their dentist, making every dental encounter an opportunity to educate and vaccine, as well as a chance to shorten the line at other vaccination locations.
“We are not convinced that the Assistant Secretary for Health intended to exclude any qualified vaccinators from the PREP Act Declaration,” the letter said.
“We would also hate for dentistry, which is not mentioned, to be overlooked in plans to expand the nation’s vaccination surge capacity, especially when dentists are qualified to vaccinate and willing to do so,” the letter said.
“Again, we respectfully ask your office to issue guidance regarding temporary liability protection for dentists who administer approved COVID-10 vaccines under the PREP Act,” the letter said.
“Doing so would achieve two aims of President Biden’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness: Safely and effectively surge the healthcare workforce to support the vaccination effort and create as many venues as needed for people to be vaccinated,” the letter concluded.