Updated March 12: All adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by May 1; $1.9T stimulus package provides $42B to California
Due to the large amount of COVID-19 vaccines obtained in recent weeks, President Biden announced Thursday evening that his administration will be directing states to make vaccines eligible to all adults in the U.S. by May 1.
The administration will significantly increase the weekly shipments of vaccines to states, community clinics and pharmacies with the goal of administering 4 million shots per day in coming weeks.
The $1.9T stimulus package President Biden signed Thursday will also bring a total of $42B to California to help with economic recovery, with additional details from the Newsom administration coming soon.
While all adults will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines by May 1, getting adults vaccinated as quickly as possible will only happen through the efforts of volunteers and the health care community.
Dentists will have an increasing role in this national effort by:
Coming soon are new CDA resources to empower CDA members to help California move past the pandemic. Continue reading for statewide vaccine developments from the past two weeks.
March 11: An expected increase in California’s COVD-19 vaccine supply together with more efficient allocation of the vaccine through the new Statewide Vaccine Network are likely to affect dentists in two important ways in the coming weeks to next several months. They’ll not only have new opportunities to become volunteer vaccinators but eventually they’ll be able to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in the dental office.
Meanwhile, as essential health care providers, dentists are well-positioned to educate their patients about COVID-19 vaccine safety and efficacy, including the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson, which on Feb. 27 became the third COVID-19 vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added a fourth training module covering the new Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Dentists and all other health care providers must complete the four training modules before they vaccinate. More information about the vaccinator trainings can be found in the CDA COVID-19 Vaccine Information Toolkit.
Determining and understanding who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine has been a source of confusion since vaccination efforts began in California. That’s because eligibility determinations were largely left to counties and local governments, resulting in significant variation across the state.
But as of March 1, all providers and local health departments in California are uniformly following state-directed vaccine eligibility criteria as part of the Statewide Vaccine Network, which aims to eliminate all the earlier variation and confusion and to help ensure that disproportionately affected communities have equitable access to the vaccine.
My Turn will also become the primary way Californians will sign up for vaccination appointments. The California Department of Public Health states that, over time, providers will work with the state to connect with the My Turn platform, allowing the state to adjust allocation and outreach efforts to ensure equity.
Blue Shield of California is the state’s network administrator and is using the state’s criteria to recommend vaccine allocation for doses delivered each week beginning March 1 with a focus on providers serving the 10 counties that are currently in wave 1.
The California Department of Consumer Affairs in early January issued a public health emergency waiver allowing California dentists to temporarily administer the COVID-19 vaccines if they comply with training and other requirements, but due to a severely limited supply of the vaccines, dentists have been limited to volunteering at mass-vaccination sites.
That may soon change.
Because the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson is a single-dose vaccine that can be stored under normal refrigeration, unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, dentists may soon gain the ability to provide the Janssen vaccine in the dental office, particularly as production ramps up. Just yesterday, the Biden Administration announced the U.S. government would secure another 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as a result of a deal with Merck.
Once larger amounts of vaccines are available to the general public, the state may increasingly call upon dentists to join the Statewide Vaccine Network to get as many individuals vaccinated as possible.
For now, dentists can volunteer to vaccinate at a location near them by registering through the Office of the Governor’s My Turn Volunteer platform. The platform lets users schedule a shift or be notified about future opportunities in their area. More information is available in the My Turn Volunteer FAQ and recruitment toolkit.
Dentists who wish to begin volunteering as COVID-19 vaccinators must complete four CDC training modules, including the most recent addition, Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine (Johnson & Johnson): What Healthcare Professionals Need to Know.
CDA recommends that dentists who are already volunteering and who completed the three required CDC trainings as part of the state’s emergency waiver complete the newest training module and also check with their volunteer site to determine if they need to provide a certificate of completion. CDA’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information Toolkit includes a troubleshooting guide to obtaining certificates of completion for the CDC trainings.
In U.S. clinical trials, the single-dose Janssen COVID-19 vaccine had a lower efficacy rate than the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which has caused some concern among the public, but the experts are in agreement: It’s still a highly effective vaccine that is just as effective in preventing COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths as its two FDA-approved predecessors.
It’s also highly effective against severe COVID-19 illness, and scientists have cautioned that the variation in clinical trials and other factors make a direct comparison of efficacy challenging.
Inoculating as many people against COVID-19 as possible with vaccines proven to be safe and effective will mean a quicker opening of schools and businesses and a quicker return to pre-COVID activities. Dentists, as trusted health care providers, are in a unique position to encourage their patients, colleagues, staff, friends and members of their community to accept any one of the FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines they are offered.
The California Volunteers Office of the Governor’s Vaccinate all 58 campaign has downloadable resources in multiple languages that health care providers can use to promote vaccination. The resources include social media graphics, website buttons, fact sheets, infographics and more.
Also in the news this week are new interim CDC recommendations for fully vaccinated people. The CDC considers a person fully vaccinated when more than two weeks have passed since they received the second dose in a two-dose series or the first dose of a single-dose vaccine, like the new Janssen vaccine.
The recommendations cover physical distancing and the wearing of masks in public and in small, medium and large gatherings.
All of the recommendations apply to non-health care settings.
Get the latest information about COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration, including employer resources and required training, in CDA’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information Toolkit.