UPDATE: Two days before we originally published this article on December 18, then entitled “Dentists Not Included as First Tier Healthcare Workers to Receive COVID-19 Vaccines,” the American Dental Association sent a letter to the CDC asking the agency to “make it clear that dental personnel, autopsy personnel and laboratory personnel are included in the agency’s recommendation to give healthcare workers priority access to a COVID-19 vaccine.”
The CDC webpage entitled “The Importance of COVID-19 Vaccination for Healthcare Personnel,” updated December 28, clearly states that dentists, dental hygienists and dental staff are considered “healthcare personnel.”
The directive we originally referenced from Texas Health and Human Services was updated on December 17 and second-tier guidance was updated (change in italics):
1. Staff in outpatient care settings who interact with symptomatic patients. Such as but not limited to:
a. Physicians, nurses, and other support staff (custodial staff, etc.)
b. Clinical staff providing diagnostic, laboratory, and/or rehabilitation services
c. Non 9-1-1 transport for routine care
d. Healthcare workers in corrections and detention facilities.
So while dentists and dental staff are not specifically mentioned in the Texas HHS document, in alignment with the CDC definition of healthcare personnel, clearly such is now clearly covered.
The December 17 HHS guidance is available here.
We received a copy of the following December 4 Texas Health and Human Services directive from the Commissioner of the Department of State Health Services Dr. John Hellerstedt.
The document sets forth the principles on which healthcare professionals will get priority in receiving vaccinations for COVID-19. Dentists are not included.
It was pointed out to us that community pharmacy staff are in the Second Tier as they “may provide direct services to clients, including vaccination or testing for individuals who may have COVID.” Yet, dentists and their staff are serving at close quarters many potential asymptomatic and possibly symptomatic patients. They are at great risk and depend solely on their PPE and protocols for protection from infection.