Dentist Vaccine Administration: The Discussion Continues


tion when it arrives. We know that on September 3, 2020 the U.S. Department of Health and Senior Services declared that pharmacists and pharmacist interns, under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist, can administer to persons ages 3 and older the COVID-19 vaccinations that are authorized or licensed by the FDA. In the dental profession, the discussion on vaccine administration by dentists has been happening—but not necessarily fully supported. At the ADA House of Delegates virtual meeting in October, a resolution calls for a position on this very subject matter, drawing on the premise that dentist have the knowledge and skills to administer critical vaccines.


For the MDA Board, this matter has come to its attention over the past couple of years through the dental schools’ deans requesting support for this type of legislation in Missouri. The Board hasn’t been ignoring it, but rather, could not support the legislative language as presented for such to be added to dentist’s scope of practice. So, this concept is not new to MDA; what is new, of course, is the pandemic, which is creating a call for the topic to be taken up again.

To that end, the MDA Board recently sent to members a legislative survey, and from responses on questions related to vaccines, it indicates that a large percentage of members do believe that administration of vaccines should be allowed by dentists; however, it was an almost even split on this not being all vaccines. While the MDA Board will not pursue this legislation through its agenda, it does feel several principles are needed in any vaccine legislation, includ- ing: that there should not be a mandate for dentists to administer vaccines; that vaccines allowed to be administered by dentists should be only those related to the oral cavity or those as defined by emergency declaration (such as COVID-19); and, that proper training should be required. The training is not on giving a vaccine—dentists are well prepared for using needles—but instead on what will be needed to comply with federal and/or state regulations related to the storage, recording and administering of any vaccine.

To our knowledge, there are only three states (Illinois, Minnesota and Oregon) that allow for vaccine administration by dentists, and the specifics of what is allowed in each state varies. With this said, most recently it was noted by our State Dental Director, Dr. John Dane, that there still is concern surrounding how payments would be made to dentists because vaccines are considered medical procedures with a medical code—thus, the MO HealthNet program currently would not pay for dentists to administer a vaccine. Therefore, this is something that also has to be addressed. Dr. Dane also noted that the storage complexity of vaccines may deter dentists from wanting to administer a vaccine; however, dentists may be more likely to consider volunteering or working for another entity to assist in a mass inoculation.

Another related topic dentists are asking us about—and the ADA and the MDA is advocating for—is to categorize dentists for priority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available. The ADA has testified to the committee overseeing this priority chain, noting that dentists are essential healthcare workers and that prioritizing all dental professionals will be important.

There is plenty to consider regarding the area of vaccines. Keep up to date on these matters by reading MDA email communications, visiting the website or regularly checking out the MDA app. Call or email me with any questions or feedback.

20 focus | SEP/OCT 2020 | ISSUE 5

accinations being administered by dentists has certainly come to the forefront due to the COVID pandemic. With the pending arrival of the vaccine, we already are hearing from the federal government that states should be prepared to provide a mass inocula-


about or utilized?

• Advocacy: the MDA advocates for us at federal and state levels by launching legislation and guarding our profession from unwanted rules and regulations. We have more power as a group than we do as individuals in this endeavor.

• MDA Staff: Our staff is hardwork- ing and skilled in anticipating and addressing matters important to members.

• MDIS: This group continues to offer affordable products and services that enhance and protect the investments dentists have made in their practices. These in- clude 401(k) MEAP plans, liability insurance, cyber security, work- ers’ compensation, and health insurance options.

• Connect4Success: What began as a program for new dentists, C4S has expanded to include all ages in an opportunity to gather in the summer at Lake of the Ozarks. This is not only a time to receive excellent CE instruction, but also a great time to socialize and build relationships with other members.

What are you most excited about and most worried about for the dental pro- fession? I am most enthusiastic about continuing the proud legacy of a fine profession. I also am excited about advancing technology that enables us to treat patients more efficiently and effectively. I am concerned about a potential disconnect which could arise among dentists if they disengage from association relationships, opportuni- ties and resources. As we face ever- changing business models, it becomes increasingly vital that we remain connected as professionals seeking to maintain quality of care for patients and excellence in dental practices. I am also concerned about the rising cost of dental education.

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