State lawmakers are seeking to make allowances for dentists and other related professionals to be vaccinators in the state.
Assembly Bill 269 was introduced on Monday. If passed, the legislation would allow for licensed dentists, dental hygienists or dental therapists to administer immunizations in the state for common diseases such as influenza and continue to administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
“It is imperative that Nevada increase opportunities and locations for getting vaccinated – and expanding the scope of dentists is a step in ensuring adequate vaccine access, and follows similar efforts made by other states,” said Heidi Parker, executive director of Immunize Nevada, in a joint release with the Nevada Dental Association.
“We are grateful for the forward thinking of the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners in considering this agenda item to help increase immunization access across the state.”
The bill’s primary sponsors are Assemblyman Philip P.K. O’Neill, R-Carson City, and Minority Leader Robin Titus, R-Wellington, in the Assembly. In the state Senate, Sens. Joseph Hardy, R-Boulder City, and Fabian Donate, D-Las Vegas, are sponsors.
Dentists and others were given allowances under the state’s emergency orders to administer the COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year. Additional guidance was given by Nevada Health Response on Gov. Steve Sisolak’s Directive 11 in mid-January that added dentists, dental hygienists, podiatrists, and veterinarians as those authorized to administer COVID-19 vaccines.
Assembly Bill 269 gives dentists and other related dental practitioners an allowance to administer COVID-19 immunizations on an ongoing basis, as well as for other common diseases that include influenza and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
Citing national studies, Immunize Nevada’s release states that “70% of oropharyngeal cancers are related to the HPV virus.”
“We want Nevadans to know that administering vaccines is within the scope of practice for a dentist, that Nevada acknowledges this and that there is legislation being put forth to make this permanent,” said NDA President Dr. Mark Funke, DDS, a longtime dentist based in Carson City, in the joint release.
“We are also grateful to have support for this legislation from a number of respected entities, including Immunize Nevada. This effort will increase the public’s access to life-saving care in a safe, effective and convenient manner and help alleviate the burden on the local health care system.”
Similar legislation has been submitted in several states in addition to Nevada: Ohio, Massachusetts, New York, Idaho, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Washington. Oregon already has a law in place to allow for dentists to administer such vaccines.
The joint release notes that, “American Dental Association’s (ADA) House of Delegates previously passed a resolution that states that dentists have the requisite knowledge and skills to administer critical vaccines that prevent life- and health-threatening conditions and protect the life and health of patients and staff at the point of care.”