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.