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Dental groups, key stakeholders reach out to CDC regarding COVID-19 vaccine

Organizations ask agency to clarify that dentists, medical examiners, lab workers will receive priority access

December 16, 2020

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The Organized Dentistry Coalition and other key health care stakeholders are asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make it clear that dental personnel, autopsy personnel and laboratory personnel are included in the agency’s recommendation to give health care workers priority access to a COVID-19 vaccine.

In a Dec. 16 letter to CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D, the organizations noted that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice recommended that the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations be offered to health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. They also observed that committee discussions suggested it intended for the definition of “health care personnel” to be broad and inclusive of all health care workers “who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials.”

“For us, there is little question that Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices intended for its recommendation to apply broadly to all health care workers, including dental personnel, autopsy personnel and laboratory personnel,” the groups wrote. “As a matter of due diligence, however, we would ask you to clarify that ACIP’s recommendation applies to all ‘health care personnel.’”

The groups pointed out that the committee’s definition of health care personnel appears to be based on the CDC’s 2019 Guideline for Infection Control in Healthcare Personnel’s definition, but noted the term could be misinterpreted since the guideline was never intended for “dental health care personnel, autopsy personnel and laboratory personnel.”

“We are convinced that ACIP did not intend to exclude any health care professions from its recommendation to offer vaccinations to health care personnel in the initial phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program (Phase 1a). However, we would hate for jurisdictions to overlook these essential health care workers during the Phase 1a rollout because of a minor footnote in guidance that was developed for an entirely different purpose (i.e., infection control).

“Again, we respectfully ask CDC to clarify in its COVID-19 Vaccination Playbook for Jurisdiction Operations that all health care workers — including dental, autopsy, and laboratory personnel — are among those who should be given priority access to a vaccine during the initial phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program,” the letter concluded.

For more information about the ADA's advocacy efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit ADA.org/COVID19Advocacy.