TDA Meets with State Leaders to Discuss COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
On December 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) member 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 outstrips 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.