An update regarding vaccine prioritization for dentists and dental staff in Washington state.
As states begin administering the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine across the U.S., we want to provide an update, based on the most currently available information, regarding vaccine prioritization for dentists and dental staff in Washington state.
As of Monday, Dec. 14, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has only released a final draft of Phase 1A of its COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Guidance (phases beyond 1A have not been finalized).
Phase 1A prioritizes workers in contact with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients and residents and staff of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other community-based, congregate living settings.
Following questions from members regarding communications from DOH, we want to clarify that dentists and dental staff are not included in Phase 1A.
WSDA fully supports DOH’s decision to place workers who are in constant contact with those who are known to be infected with the virus and residents and staff of nursing homes in Phase 1A of their vaccination plan. We also recognize that, as health care workers, dentists and dental staff are anxious to take the vaccine, and we are doing our best to ensure you are prioritized in Phase 1.
Both WSDA and ADA are recommending to DOH that states follow guidelines by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine which identify dentists as essential health care personnel who should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine as a priority.
Our discussions with DOH are ongoing. At this time, we are waiting for DOH to release the final vaccination plan, which will better detail the phase in which dentists and their teams can expect access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Once announced, we will update members and take any additional action, if necessary.
On Friday, Dec. 11, the Dental Quality Assurance Commission (DQAC) determined that it is within a dentist’s scope of practice to administer COVID-19 vaccines during the current state of emergency. The Commission will formalize this determination by creating an interpretive statement on the matter. Additionally, the Commission will undergo emergency rulemaking to allow dentists to delegate the administration of COVID-19 vaccines to dental hygienists.
The next step will be to receive authorization from the Governor. WSDA’s lobbying team is actively engaging with the Governor’s office and will provide an update as soon as possible.
Dr. Dennis Bradshaw