Since January 2021, University of the Pacific’s Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco has stepped up to host 25 clinics for COVID-19 vaccines to support the community, organized by over 250 volunteer students, faculty and staff.
Now, dental students in the DDS program are taking an even greater role in these clinics by administering vaccine doses directly to patients themselves. Previously, only faculty dentists performed the vaccinations.
On Oct. 21, 2021, Angelica Amatangelo DDS ’23 became the first dental student at the Dugoni School to administer a COVID-19 vaccine to a patient.
“I’m honored to be on the front line as one of the first dental students in the country to administer COVID-19 vaccines,” said Amatangelo. “Being able to serve in this new way has made my dental school experience all the more fulfilling. The faculty and staff at the Dugoni School have worked so hard to make these vaccine clinics possible. I’m humbled to be a part of their effort to keep our community safe.”
This advancement is part of efforts to expand the number of healthcare professionals nationwide who are authorized to administer vaccines. On March 11, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services amended an emergency declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act to designate additional health care professionals, including dentists and dental students, as “qualified persons” whom are authorized to administer COVID-19 vaccines.
On March 30, the Department of Consumer Affairs in California also issued a waiver that expanded COVID-19 vaccinator eligibility to include dental students, under supervision.
“Through their training, dentists and dental students already have the knowledge and skills to administer intra-oral local anesthesia,” said Dr. Nader A. Nadershahi, dean of the Dugoni School. “The capability to administer a vaccine into an exposed arm is a logical extension of these skills and is a way to expand the team of healthcare professionals who are able to combat COVID-19 and influenza.”
Students must take a selective course that gives them additional technical knowledge on the administration of COVID-19 vaccines. The Dental Board of California has mandated that dentists complete four CDC-hosted courses prior to beginning to administer the vaccine. Faculty at the Dugoni School have developed a curriculum for students that includes foundational knowledge, hands-on simulated practice, and finally, supervised administration of vaccines.
Vaccine clinics are now offered to the public on a weekly basis in the school’s main dental clinic on the 2nd floor each Thursday morning. Volunteers continue to offer evening and weekend vaccine clinics, which are scheduled as needed.
Across the United States, more than 40 states have changed regulations to allow dentists to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, following the federal declaration in March.