The landscape for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine has moved quickly this week, and there are still many unknowns and changes taking place. Here, find the latest information dentists need to know.
The California Department of Public Health issued a recommendation late Thursday to collapse the vaccination tiers in Phase 1a, making all health care professionals, including dental team staff, eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine now. The recommendation, a result of CDA’s advocacy efforts, aims to accelerate the pace of vaccine administration and was made to local public health departments and providers.
While the recommendation from the state is a critical step in getting the vaccine distributed, how soon dentists and dental teams can be vaccinated depends on the logistics of each local county, which vary widely across the state. Dentists will be contacted by their local dental society or local health department as soon as more information is available on how to get vaccinated. At this time, there is no source for proactively monitoring or tracking this information, as each county’s situation is changing rapidly.
There are a number of factors that determine how quickly a local health department can vaccinate its health care professionals, including:
CDA is urging dentists to complete the CDC training that will make them eligible to administer the vaccines under the public health emergency waiver that was granted earlier this week as a result of CDA’s advocacy efforts.
The DCA waiver establishes the necessary training dentists must complete through the CDC that is specific to vaccine administration, contraindications and adverse reactions. The required training, totaling approximately 1 hour, is free and self-paced. The courses are:
WB4460: Vaccine Training: General Overview of Immunization Best Practices for Healthcare Providers
WB4461: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine: What Healthcare Professionals Need to Know
WB4464: Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine: What Healthcare Professionals Need to Know
Dentists who have already completed the modules and received their certificates of completion prior to CDPH’s updated training requirements do not need to retake them.
To obtain certificates of completion for each of the three modules, dentists will need to make an account at CDC’s Training and Continuing Education Online and follow the instructions. CDA’s troubleshooting guide also offers instructions on how to obtain a certificate of completion. Dentists should keep these certificates in their records similarly to how continuing education records are stored.
While these courses do not currently count for C.E., CDA continues to advocate for all CDC courses to qualify as C.E. hours and for qualification to be retroactive for those who have already completed the training.
Find additional information about completing the training in the COVID-19 Vaccine Administration FAQs.
CDA has issued an action alert urging members to send a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and California Dept. of Public Health Director Dr. Aragón to prioritize dentistry’s access to the COVID-19 vaccine in the state’s evolving plans.
While the state is moving away from tiers and focusing on all health care professionals in Phase 1a, CDA is advocating that dental team members be vaccinated as soon as possible given the type of unmasked patient interactions dentists and their staff engage in. And now that dentists have been approved to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in California, dentists and their staff must be vaccinated as soon as possible in order to join the front lines of the state's vaccination efforts.
At this time, it is unlikely that dentists will administer vaccines from their dental offices due to storage requirements, outstanding billing questions, space requirements when monitoring patients after vaccine administration and lack of finalized vaccine administration plans in most counties. More likely, dentists who wish to participate will do so through efforts organized by government entities, local health systems and hospitals.
Through a memo submitted to the Department of Public Health on January 4, CDA is advocating for a partnership with organized dentistry to explore and execute mass vaccination clinics throughout the state to safely administer vaccines. The memo encourages the state to leverage dental professionals to help iron out details on how mass vaccination sites could operate across the state. Large-scale CDA Cares clinics that have typically been held each year are a great example of how those clinics can be executed.
Members should review the COVID-19 Vaccine Administration FAQs for additional information on receiving training and how the administration process might work.
While CDA’s advocacy work has resulted in some critical changes so far, the organization continues to be wholly focused on vaccine efforts across the board, which also includes advocacy efforts to:
As the vaccine landscape continues to rapidly evolve, CDA members should check the CDA Newsroom for regular updates and review the COVID-19 Vaccine Administration FAQs for additional information.