Some pushback on letting dentists give Covid shots in dental offices
DES MOINES — The Iowa House has voted to let dentists administer Covid vaccines and give the shots their dental offices if they choose, but there is some push back from the medical community on that last part.
During a Senate subcommittee hearing, Dennis Tibben of the Iowa Medical Society said the staff in dentists’ offices may not be properly trained “to accurately, consistently and quickly” record every single shot that’s been given into the required database.
“We could set ourselves up for the potential here where we would have phantom doses that it shows on our federal reports, that we have more doses on the shelf than we actually do,” he said. “…That could impact the weekly supply of Covid-19 vaccines that we’re receiving from the federal government.”
Dr. William McBride, a dentist from Dubuque, is chair of the state Dental Board, which supports the entire bill, including the idea of letting dentists deliver Covid shots in their offices.
“I would note that this is voluntary. Certainly some dentists will opt not to participate, but I would also like to note that it could be an additional access point for patients, particularly in rural communities,” McBride said. “…The board believes that dentists are more than qualified to provide this service and that it would be good public health policy.”
Sara Allen, a lobbyist for the Iowa Dental Association, which represents the state’s dentists, said with such a short supply of vaccine doses, now is not the time to distribute doses to dentist’s offices.
“Upsetting the apple cart right now is not really conducive to public health,” Allen said. “However I will say that we would love and would be great partners with the state if there were these vaccine clinics throughout the state where, you know, we could show up on a Saturday and help administer the vaccines.”
Charlotte Eby, a lobbyist for the Association of Dental Support Organizations, said the group “strongly” supports giving dentists authority to give Covid shots in their offices if they wish.
“State officials are ramping up the effort to vaccinate as many Iowans as quickly and as safely as possible,” Eby said, “and as we deal with the challenges of the pandemic, Iowa dentists have a unique opportunity to lend their health care expertise and skills.”
The bill passed the House last month on an 89-4 vote. This week, the bill cleared a subcommittee in the senate, after one lawmaker described the disagreement among dentists as a “turf war.” At least 23 states have passed laws that give dentists authority to administer Covid vaccines and many also let dentists do so in their own offices.