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ADA supports efforts allowing dentists to administer vaccines

Resolution outlines clinicians’ skills, training to increase vaccination rates

October 23, 2020

By Kimber Solana

The American Dental Association offered its support to dentists who are seeking to administer vaccines, including — when it becomes available — a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19, according to a resolution passed by the ADA House of Delegates on Oct. 19.

Photo of Dr. Ho
Dr. Ho
Resolution 91H-2020 states that dentists have the requisite knowledge and skills to administer critical vaccines that prevent life- or health-threatening conditions and protect the life and health of patients and staff at the point of care.
   
“The pandemic has highlighted the potential benefits of an expanded role for dentists in preventive health care, including access to and the administration of vaccinations,” said Duc M. Ho, D.D.S, chair of the ADA Council on Dental Practice.
 
Similar to what occurred when pharmacists began administering flu vaccines, Dr. Ho added, expanding the scope of practice to include vaccine delivery in dental practices would almost certainly increase the number of people receiving vaccinations and elevate the overall health of the public commensurately.
 
“This policy statement from the American Dental Association would help dental societies lobbying for permanent or temporary authority to administer vaccines to benefit patients and protect dental office staff and their communities,” he said.
   
According to the resolution, many states have issued guidance and emergency orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that suspend a number of regulations and statutes to expand dentists’ scope of practice and relax supervision requirements in order to enhance the capacity of the health care provider workforce battling the pandemic.
   
The resolution also stated that this expansion of the scope of practice was based on dentists having the appropriate clinical knowledge and competency to perform tasks in a manner consistent with the prevailing standards of care. For example, dentists have the training to administer intra-oral and extraoral injections to provide anesthesia. In many states, dentists are permitted to administer Botox injections and start IVs for sedations (with the requisite permits).

These skills, according to the resolution’s background, can easily translate to the administration of vaccines with the appropriate training.
   
The resolution aligns with the ADA policy approved by the House of Delegates in 2018 that supports the use and administration of the human papillomavirus vaccine, recognizing it as a way to help prevent infection of the types of HPV associated with oropharyngeal cancer.