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ADA urges CDC to include dentists in COVID-19 vaccine plan

November 20, 2020

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA is asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to incorporate dentists into its framework for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a Nov. 20 letter to the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, D.M.D., observed “there may be a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine” once available. They also expressed concern that dentists and dental team members aren’t currently included in the agency’s outline to help states plan a vaccination response to the virus despite the fact that “dentistry is an essential health care service.”

In the letter, the ADA noted the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s recent recommendation that dentists and their teams be placed in Phase 1a of those who should be afforded early access to a COVID-19 vaccine.

“There is nothing routine about dental care,” wrote Drs. Klemmedson and O’Loughlin. “Beyond treating immediate pain, dentists evaluate, diagnose, prevent and treat diseases that can be life-changing or even life-threatening. For example, early detection of oral cancers and serious infections can lead to early treatment. Delaying treatment for months, weeks, or even days can make the difference between dying early, having a life-changing abnormality and living a normal, healthy life.”

They also pointed out that dental care is essential to managing chronic diseases such as diabetes, which can exacerbate some oral health problems.

“Moreover, because dentists are trained to recognize early signs and symptoms of diabetes, they can help patients avoid serious diabetes-related complications by referring patients for medical follow-up,” Drs. Klemmedson and O’Loughlin told CDC.

“Additionally, dentists and their teams can help increase the nation’s medical surge capacity when medical personnel are overwhelmed,” ADA said. “Dentists are trained health care professionals who can administer critical vaccines to prevent life or health-threatening conditions — and protect the life and health of patients and staff at the point of care.”

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