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TDA Continues Advocating For Dentists as Texas Receives First Doses of Pfizer COVID Vaccine

Today, Texas received the first allocated Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses of the total 1.4 million COVID-19 vaccine 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 refines and implements its guiding principles for COVID-19 vaccine allocation. TDA maintains 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 will not be sufficient 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. Additionally, 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 an update at that time. EVAP has not finalized the next tier of phase 1A frontline health care workers.  We realize that members are very anxious to know when they will be eligible for vaccination. TDA is doing everything possible to ensure that dental health care personnel are included in tier-2 of phase 1A. 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.