California Dentists Shielded from Liability in COVID-19 Vaccine Administration

Dentistry Today


Dentists and other healthcare professionals in California are now protected from liability in administering COVID-19 vaccines, according to an executive order from Governor Gavin Newsom.

The order noted California’s ongoing state of emergency as a result of the pandemic and the need to vaccinate residents against the disease as swiftly as possible.

Also, the order said that “healthcare providers who render services during an emergency should not be subject to discipline for performing their duties consistent with standards of care prevailing during the emergency.”

Boards, bureaus, and committees that are “responsible for professional discipline should ensure that such professionals’ and providers’ actions are assessed in the context of the standards of care, including any state waivers or health orders, in effect during an emergency, rather than with the benefit of hindsight,” the order said.

Plus, regulatory and disciplinary bodies “shall prioritize the investigation of complaints against licensees who have allegedly engaged in the diversion of COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine-administration supplies provided by the federal government, in violation of applicable federal requirements, for financial gain,” the order said.

Additionally, the order clarified that nothing in its “shall be construed to restrict, diminish, or otherwise limit any other immunity that would otherwise be available to any person under any applicable provision of law.”

Meanwhile, the California Dental Association (CDA) has said that it is continuing to work with the California Department of Public Health and the state’s dental director to help dentists administer COVID-19 vaccines.

For example, the CDA said, dentists in California now are only required to complete one training course hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consisting of three modules, instead of the previously required four courses.

Eligible dentists are only permitted to administer the vaccine at mass vaccination clinics, healthcare institutions, or community sponsored clinics, said the CDA, which does not expect dentists to administer vaccines from their offices due to supply shortages, storage requirements, billing questions, and lack of finalized administration plans in most counties.

As of January 28, the CDA said, California has only administered about half of its supply of 5.5 million doses, and of those administered, less than 2% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated.

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