When a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, dentists and dental hygienists should be among the first people receiving it, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine.
“We are thrilled that the National Academies has affirmed what we’ve long known,” said ADA president Chad P. Gehani and ADA executive director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin. “Dentistry is an essential healthcare service, and dentists and their teams are essential healthcare workers.”
Developed by NASEM’s Committee on Equitable Allocation of Vaccine for the Novel Coronavirus, which was formed in July and sponsored by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the plan has four phases:
- Phase 1a: Frontline healthcare workers, healthcare workers who risk exposure to bodily fluids or aerosols, and first responders
- Phase 1b: People of all ages with comorbid and underlying conditions that put them at significantly higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease or death; and people over the age of 65 living in congregate or overcrowded settings such as nursing homes and jails
- Phase 2: K-12 teachers and school staff; child care workers; critical workers in high-risk settings such as food supply and public transit; people of all ages with comorbid and underlying conditions that put them at moderately higher risk; people who live in or work at homeless shelters or group homes; employees of prisons, jails, and detention centers; and all adults age 65 and older
- Phase 3: Young adults, children, and workers in industries such as colleges and universities, hotels, banks, exercise facilities, and factories that are important to the functioning of society and pose moderately high risk of exposure
- Phase 4: Everyone in the United States who did not have access to the vaccine in prior phases
“Despite the committee’s intense effort, this framework should still be regarded as an evolving document, meant to be adapted and refined in the face of continuing improvement in our understanding of the dynamics of the pandemic,” said committee co-chair William H. Foege, emeritus distinguished professor of international health at Emory University and former CDC director.
“We hope these guidelines serve as the impetus for one of the most consequential peacetime efforts this country has ever seen, as well as a springboard to resuming our place as a leader in global health,” Foege said.