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ADA to HHS: Grant temporary liability protection to dentists who administer vaccines

Federal action would advance U.S. strategy for COVID-19 response, preparedness      

The ADA is asking the federal government to grant temporary liability protection to dentists who administer COVID-19 vaccines.

“The Biden administration has determined there is an urgent need to expand the pool of available COVID-19 vaccinators to respond effectively to the pandemic,” wrote ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., and ADA Executive Director Kathleen T O’Loughlin, D.M.D., to Rear Admiral Felicia Collins, M.D., acting assistant secretary for health of U.S. Health and Human Services. “Unfortunately, federal efforts to mobilize every qualified vaccinator have not taken advantage of a seemingly obvious resource: Dentistry.”

Drs. Klemmedson and O’Loughlin wrote in the Feb. 11 letter, “We respectfully ask your office to issue guidance regarding civil liability protection for dentists who administer approved COVID-19 vaccines under the [Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act]. Doing so would achieve two aims of President Biden’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness: Safely and effectively ‘surge the health care workforce to support the vaccination effort’ and ‘create as many venues as needed for people to be vaccinated.’”

The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act allows the Health and Human Services Secretary to issue a declaration in times of a public health emergency. A declaration provides immunity from tort liability claims (except willful misconduct) to individuals or organizations involved in the manufacture, distribution or dispensing of medical countermeasures, which may include vaccines. A declaration for dentistry would allow licensed dentists throughout the country to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of state laws that prohibit – or effectively prohibit – dentists from doing so.

Dentists already have the requisite knowledge and skills to administer vaccines and observe side effects, and many do so on a daily basis, the ADA leaders wrote.

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