On December 7, 2020, the Department of State Health Services’ (DSHS) Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response met and gave a DSHS vaccine update and a review of the state’s vaccine distribution plan. There is no new information to share about when dentists and their teams will have the ability to be vaccinated.
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 maintains 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. TDA will update members when new information becomes available.