CDA answers questions received during the Dentist Vaccinator Webinar held Feb. 4 with the California Department of Public Health. Questions relate to vaccinator training, liability and volunteering.
Adults who share a household with a COVID-19 vaccine administrator do not currently have a route to receive the vaccine. Everyone in California will have an opportunity to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but the vaccine supply is limited right now. The state is starting with the groups who are at highest risk, such as people with a high chance of exposure and people 65 and older. California is adhering to this phased plan of vaccine allocations. Residents of California may find out when it’s their turn to get vaccinated by answering a few questions at My Turn.
Individuals in Phase 1a, including dentists in the capacity of both health care worker and vaccine administrator, are currently eligible to receive the vaccine. Most vaccination sites offer vaccines to volunteer vaccinators before their first shift or have implemented policies such as vaccinating volunteers on-site at the end of their first shift.
Each volunteer site can add its own rules and restrictions related to volunteering. At the state level, we have not heard of this restriction.
As dentists, you are trusted health care workers in your community, and you have the training and experience to administer shots. As the vaccine supply increases, we will need “all hands-on deck” to protect more people against COVID-19. California will need a combination of paid personnel and trained volunteers to equitably distribute and administer vaccines across the state. Volunteering for a few hours at one clinic can save hundreds or potentially thousands of lives. At this time, vaccine sites are operated by volunteer vaccinators. For now, paid vaccinators are administering in health care systems and pharmacies.
No, volunteer vaccinators are covered under the Disaster Health Care Volunteer liability. Double-check with the organization with which you are volunteering or with your local health department.
For purposes of immunity defenses to liability claims, a volunteer is an individual who is not compensated in any way except for reasonable expenses, such as mileage or meals.
You do not need to also register with My Turn Volunteer, the volunteer registration system for the state of California, unless you would like to know about other volunteer opportunities in your region.
There are multiple ways to sign up to administer vaccines as a volunteer. My Turn Volunteer is a statewide system, and local health jurisdictions may also have their own systems for volunteer registration.
Due to the recent executive order issued to provide immunity, a liability policy specifically for administering COVID-19 vaccines is not required. Note that the statutory immunities cannot prevent a claim or lawsuit from being filed against you but can provide you with a legal defense against any such claims. In other words, the broad immunities are designed to protect you from being held liable for any claims based on administering the vaccine as long as you are practicing within the standard of care, which includes taking the appropriate training as determined by CDPH. The advantage of having a policy that specifically covers the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine is that should a claim be filed against you, the liability carrier would provide your legal defense as opposed to you finding an attorney on your own.
Currently, under the Department of Consumer Affairs waiver, dentists are authorized to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. However, due to vaccine supply, dentists will have the opportunity to help administer vaccines at community sites only at this time. More information, training and resources for dentists may be found on the California Department of Public Health webpage Training Requirements for Non-Traditional Vaccinators. Once the vaccine supply increases in the state, the CDPH will communicate when dentists are eligible to enroll in the California COVID-19 Vaccination Program to order, store and administer vaccines in dental offices. It is anticipated that additional training for storage and administration requirements will also be required for dentists who wish to offer vaccines to patients in the dental office.