In a 67-0 vote Monday, the Minnesota Senate passed legislation that will allow dentists to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
SF 475 is a bill “amending Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 150A.055,” which gives dentists the ability to distribute influenza vaccines. The amendment broadens the original bill, extending to cover COVID-19 vaccinations, too.
It also allows dentists to distribute the vaccine to patients as young as 16. The minimum age for a dentist to distribute an influenza vaccine in Minnesota is 19.
It requires that dentists who are approved to distribute the vaccine “have immediate access to emergency response equipment, including but not limited to oxygen administration equipment, epinephrine, and other allergic reaction response equipment,” and that they are approved by the Minnesota Board of Dentistry to distribute vaccines.
The bill now heads to the Minnesota House.
Dentists were among frontline healthcare workers who, in most states, received the COVID-19 vaccine before members of the general public.
“States and territories are continuing to refine their COVID-19 vaccination plans following the Food and Drug Administration’s Dec. 11 authorization of the first COVID-19 vaccine,” according to the American Dental Association’s (ADA) website. “These efforts may include using dentists to assist with vaccination efforts in some states. As final authority rests with each state in prioritizing the population to receive the vaccine and in administering it, there are some variances between states.”
Many states, including Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, New Mexico and Colorado appear to have automatically allowed dentists to distribute the vaccine as soon as the vaccine became available, according to a map on the ADA website.
Other states, like Minnesota, appear to have deferred to their state legislatures to give dentists such permission. In neighboring Wisconsin and Iowa, dentists are currently not allowed to distribute the vaccine.
“As the COVID vaccine becomes more readily available, we want to ensure that Minnesota has the flexibility to administer the vaccine quickly in communities across the state,” Sen. Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake), sponsor of the bill, reportedly said. “Our state’s rollout has been rocky to date. As we look to improve, one way to add flexibility is to add administers that we already have trusted as partners in delivering other vaccines.”
Though dentists can now administer the vaccine, the main issue is still supply.
“The vaccine supply remains extremely limited, but we are developing a strong and reliable network of different ways Minnesotans can get vaccinated,” Gov. Tim Walz (D) said Monday.
Monday, 24,000 new doses were allocated for distribution.
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