Where we Stand: Video Update from TDA President Dr. Jacqueline Plemons
“We will never stop fighting for our members.” If you’re wondering about the status of the COVID vaccine, you’re going to want to watch this important video from TDA President Dr. Jacqueline Plemons on the COVID-19 vaccine, where we stand in the process, and what TDA is doing for Texas dentists.
January 8, 2021
TDA Testified Again at DSHS for Texas Dentists and Dental Teams to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine
We won’t stop fighting for dentists and their teams to get vaccinated, and we will keep giving updates as soon as possible. There’s no new information yet on vaccine distribution, but we will update our members ASAP when there is.
On Friday, January 8, TDA testified again on behalf of Texas dentists and dental teams
at the Department of State Health Services’ (DSHS) Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response meeting. TDA already submitted written testimony for the Task Force’s December meeting. While there is no new information to share about when dentists and dental teams can be vaccinated, TDA continues advocating hard for you—and will let members know as soon as there is new information.
In our testimony, TDA again asked that dental health care personnel be given priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine. TDA reminded the Task Force that the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to include “health care personnel (HCP)” in Phase 1a allocation of initial COVID-19 vaccines. TDA testified that the CDC confirmed in January that dentists, dental teams, and dental students are included in its initial recommendation for health care personnel to be among those offered the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
TDA’s testimony closed by reiterating that oral health care is integral to overall health. Making COVID-19 vaccines available to dental health care personnel is crucial for Texas to maintain a strong dental workforce. This helps ensure that dental care can continue being delivered safely to patients. As an integral part of Texas overall health care infrastructure, dentists and their teams provide direct patient care that is key to the state’s overall COVID-19 response.
During the meeting, Commissioner Hellerstedt acknowledged that Texas deviated significantly from the CDC’s vaccine allocation strategy. He said that Texas should be proud of having a “person-centric” vaccine approach because it focuses on the needs of Texans and is inclusive. He added that it makes more sense to focus on the needs of the population compared to focusing on employment populations. The state government’s current vaccine priority groups are categories of people that need to be vaccinated to preserve Texas’ critical health care infrastructure and assure hospital bed availability for all COVID-19 patients.
TDA’s testimony is being shared with the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP). Next Phase recommendations will come from the EVAP for Commissioner Hellerstedt to approve. We will update members ASAP as new information becomes available.
January 4, 2021
TDA’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advocacy Continues While Texas Struggles with Vaccine Availability and Distribution
As TDA’s COVID-19 vaccine advocacy continues into 2021, it is important to remember that state decisionmakers consider dentistry a safe profession, practiced in a highly controlled environment, specifically designed to prevent virus transmission. For those reasons, the state government does not consider dentistry a risk group necessitating immediate vaccine access. The state government’s current vaccine priority groups are those necessary to preserve Texas’ critical health care infrastructure and assure hospital bed availability for all COVID-19 patients.
Although you may know colleagues who received the vaccine, dentistry has not been formally assigned into a vaccine group. However, the Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP) continues to privately meet and consider criteria for additional stages of vaccine distribution. TDA remains in close contact with EVAP members to advocate for dental health care personnel (DHCP) to be vaccinated.
Many of TDA’s local component societies have communicated with members about local availability of the COVID-19 vaccine. These instances are isolated to those with hospital affiliations and in some regions in Texas based on local interpretations of the guidelines. Those regions that are vaccinating DHCP have independently made the determination that they meet the phase 1A criteria for receiving the vaccination.
What can you do now?
- Refer to the weekly COVID-19 vaccine allocation list on TDA’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information webpage along with the state’s interactive map to alert vaccine providers in your area that you and your staff want to know if extra vaccine doses become available. This aligns with the state’s intent that all vaccine doses are utilized.
- Be aware of fake vaccines being sold and other fraudulent activities occurring with the vaccine distribution. If you do choose to contact a vaccine provider about extra dosage availability, only use the state list from our COVID-19 Vaccine page. These are the only authorized providers in Texas.
What will TDA do for you?
- Continue regular outreach to Governor Abbott’s team, the EVAP, and Commissioner of Health for DHCP to be included as soon as possible in the state’s vaccine distribution.
- Maintain accurate and timely information regarding vaccine availability.
- When appropriate, work closely with the Texas Department of State Health Services and local vaccine providers on the necessary logistics to help streamline vaccine distribution to DHCP.
Texas, like most of the nation, continues struggling to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to its identified priority groups. Supply shortages, conflicting state messaging, technical errors, and logistical delays all contribute to the uncertainty we are facing. Texas’ vaccine supply from the federal government, distribution strategy, and technical support at the state and local levels, all directly impact how quickly Texas will finish vaccinating its high-risk groups.
We know that these are frustrating and anxiety inducing times. Dentistry is safe, because dentists are infection control experts, who are practicing under enhanced safety protocols. Dentistry is also a well-respected profession in which you have always put the needs of your patients first and foremost. That’s what must continue now by supporting Texas’ vaccine guidelines in which Governor Abbott and state officials have made it clear that vaccine availability will be prioritized for those populations that, if not vaccinated could overwhelm the state’s critical health care infrastructure.
You Go to Bat for your Patients—and We Go to Bat for You
We’ve received your calls and messages, and we want you to know we’re listening. You wake up every day and go to bat for your patients. You work hard to give them care in a time when nothing feels certain
. We know you may feel anxious and frustrated about when you can be vaccinated. As TDA goes to bat for you, we want you to know we are doing everything we can to get you the COVID vaccine—and the peace of mind you deserve.
We’re talking to state decisionmakers every day, driving home the importance of Texas dentists and your teams. We have also shown them, and the public, that dentists are infection control experts
, working with enhanced safety protocols that make dentist visits safe.
A Potential, Small-Scale, Local Option
While we keep fighting for you at the state level, there is another potential, small-scale option we want to help you with
. DSHS has put out a vaccine provider location map
and a list of vaccine providers receiving vaccine for week 3
. We encourage you to reach out to any providers in your area, to let them know that you and your staff want to be notified if doses become available. To help you with this effort, TDA will publish the updated list weekly
as soon as we receive it from DSHS. This is in keeping with the state’s intent that all vaccine doses are utilized.
Vaccines for Dentists are Crucial, Along with Existing Measures
Along with the infection control measures already in place, vaccines will ensure that you and your team can keep delivering care safely to patients. As an integral part of Texas overall health care infrastructure, dentists and their teams provide direct patient care that is key to the state’s overall COVID-19 response.
Week 1 COVID-19 Allocation
Week 2 COVID-19 Allocation
Week 3 COVID-19 Allocation
Week 4 COVID-19 Allocation
Week 5 COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation
Week 6 COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation
Update: TDA met with state leaders to discuss COVID-19 vaccine distribution. We’re still fighting for dentists and dental teams.
On Thursday, Dec. 18th, TDA met with state leaders and our health care industry colleagues to discuss the state’s COVID-19 vaccination allocation plan. The meeting included Dr John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Commissioner, and Dr John Zerwas, who is a member of the Texas Expert Vaccination Allocation Panel (EVAP) and serves as special advisor to Governor Greg Abbott. The Texas Hospital Association, Texas Medical Association, and other health care industries were also represented. Texas is preparing for the second vaccine allocation that should include the Moderna vaccine, as part of the state’s overall estimated allocation of 1.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of December. However, as Dr Hellerstedt summarized the situation, we are in a state of vaccine eagerness in which demand is far greater than supply—even for health care professionals.
The state of Texas continues to strategize how to best manage a limited vaccine supply, while advancing their primary strategic goal: maintaining a health care system in which any COVID-19 patient who needs a hospital bed can get one. No additional vaccine distributions decisions were announced. Dr Hellerstedt stressed the importance of continuing data-supported, non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as face coverings and social distancing
, that have shown to reduce disease transmission. These interventions, in addition to dentistry’s enhanced COVID-19 protocols, will stay in place while vaccine distribution and vaccine data gathering continues.
Fortunately, TDA worked overtime since the start of the pandemic to prove to Governor Abbott and his advisors that dentistry is a low-risk profession
with proper safeguards in place.
While we continue to aggressively advocate for you with key vaccine allocation decision makers
, it is important to remember that TDA’s advocacy resulted in dentists being able to fully practice today. TDA has made sure that state officials recognize dentists and their team members as an integral part of Texas’ overall health care infrastructure—and as essential health care professionals, who are in line to receive access to the vaccine alongside our colleagues as soon as doses become more abundant.
The Advocacy Process: What it Means & How it Works
Here we are now.
Dec 14, 2020
We realize that members are very anxious to know when they will be eligible for vaccination. TDA is working hard and doing everything we can to ensure that dental health care personnel are included in tier 2 of phase 1A. Today, Texas received the first allocated Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses of the total 1.4 million doses earmarked for Texas. TDA continues working closely with Texas’ Expert Vaccination Allocation Panel (EVAP) and the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) as the state works on its guiding principles
for COVID-19 vaccine allocation. TDA is working to show that dentists and team members should be included in the second-tier phase 1A populations eligible to be vaccinated in the state’s next distribution phase.
Each week, Texas sends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a list of health care providers recommended by EVAP and approved by DSHS Commissioner Dr John Hellerstedt who are authorized to receive the vaccine based on DSHS guiding principles. Since the initial vaccine allocations are not going to be enough to immunize all first-tier phase 1A front line hospital-based health care workers and vulnerable populations identified in the guiding principles, DSHS is not adding new populations to vaccine allocation until all identified front line hospital workers, long-term care facility workers, and vulnerable populations are vaccinated. And the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recently recommended moving long term care facility residents into first-tier phase 1A. On December 11, 2020, Governor Abbott announced that starting on December 28, 2020, Texas will participate in the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program
in which a part of each week’s Texas vaccine allocation must go to vaccinating long-term care facility residents. Participating in this program impacts how swiftly Texas will be able to finish vaccinating the first-tier phase 1 populations.
EVAP meets on Thursday, December 17th, and TDA hopes to have another update at that time. EVAP has not finalized the next tier of phase 1A frontline health care workers. Details to follow as soon as TDA has new information to share. In the meantime, continue practicing under the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners’ recently extended COVID-19 emergency rule.
We testified with DSHS for Texas dentists & dental teams to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. There’s no new information yet, but we’ll update our members ASAP when there is new information to report.
On Monday, December 7, TDA testified on behalf of Texas dentists and dental teams
at the Department of State Health Services’ (DSHS) Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response meeting. While there is no new information to share yet about when dentists and dental teams can be vaccinated, TDA is still advocating hard for you—and will let our members know as soon as there is new information.
TDA has been working with the agency, and the Expert Vaccination Allocation Panel (EVAP) that advises DSHS Commissioner Dr John Hellerstedt, to have dental health care personnel included in the second-tier phase 1A groups eligible to be vaccinated
in the state’s next distribution phase. TDA is showing that dentists are essential health care workers
, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Dentists and dental team members fit within this definition, as they are exposed to patients’ potentially infectious materials when providing dental treatment.
TDA’s written public testimony stressed that dentistry continues to be a safe profession, and Texans can safely access dental care. However, being immunized against COVID-19 affords essential dental health care personnel additional protection against COVID-19 transmission.
Dr Hellerstedt acknowledged TDA’s testimony and stated that he will make sure that it is shared with EVAP. Additional recommendations will come from EVAP as the panel continues to meet. We will be updating our members ASAP as new information becomes available.