CDC confirms dental workers to be among first offered vaccines

The CDC's recommendation came after the ADA expressed concerns over dental professionals being overlooked for vaccines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that dentists, staff, and dental students are included in its recommendation for health care workers to be among the first to be offered the COVID-19 vaccines, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). The CDC issued its recommendation in an update to its website on December 28.

The recommendation came after the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), an independent panel of medical and public health experts, released a report that includes dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and students/ trainees in its list of healthcare personnel who should be included in the first wave of vaccinations. Federal, state, and local jurisdictions should use this report as guidance for vaccine implementation, the ACIP stated.

“Early vaccine access is critical to ensuring the health and safety of this essential workforce of approximately 21 million people, protecting not only them but also their patients, families, communities, and the broader health of our country,” the CDC stated on its website.

On December 1, the ACIP’s initial recommendations stated that the COVID-19 vaccines be offered to health care professionals and residents of long-term care facilities. Following this announcement, 28 health care organizations, including the ADA, published a letter on December 16, which expressed concern that the panel’s recommendations could lead to some jurisdictions overlooking dental professionals.

The ACIP stated that there was no intention of leaving out dental, autopsy, and laboratory personnel. Dental employees were not included initially because the CDC had developed separate infection control guidelines for dental settings.

As of December 1, roughly 245,000 COVID-19 cases and 858 COVID-19 associated deaths had been reported among health care personnel, according to the ACIP’s report. By the time the CDC had updated its recommendations on December 28, those numbers had grown to 249,000 and 866 respectively.