By Jonathan Greenbergs
On January 4, 2021, the Dental Board of California (DBC) published an announcement from the Department of Consumer Affairs(DCA), DCA Waiver DCA-21-104, which waives restrictions on dentists from ordering and administering COVID-19 vaccines. To order or administer COVID-19 vaccines under this waiver, dentists have to complete a group of trainings on best practices, vaccine safety, and Pfizer and Moderna-specific data. Dentists are also required to comply with all applicable federal and state recordkeeping and reporting requirements, as well as act in accordance with any applicable FDA emergency use authorization. This waiver is in response to the high demand the medical field is experiencing for personnel to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. Dental associations, such as the California Dental Association and the American Dental Association, have both advocated for dentists to participate in vaccination efforts.
On January 28, 2021, the Board announced that DCA Waiver DCA-21-104 was superseded by DCA Waiver DCA-21-111, which changed the trainings required for dentists to order and administer COVID-19 vaccines. These new trainings cover similar issues as the previous trainings, but more concretely explain the differences between the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. All other aspects of the initial waiver discussed above remain in place.
This announcement was accompanied by a January 27, 2021 Executive Order N-02-21 issued by Governor Gavin Newsom which, according to the Dental Board, “extends liability protections to specified licensees participating in the State’s vaccination administration program” and directs the Board “to prioritize certain investigations relating to vaccine administration.” The Governor’s Executive Order extends Government Code section 8659 and allows immunity from liability for health care professionals and providers who provide services during a state of emergency at the express or implied request of state or local authorities. The overt goal of this liability waiver is to maximize the number of health care professionals and providers who continue to respond to state and local officials’ call to render services in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. Health care professionals will not be subject to discipline for performing “their duties consistent with standards of care prevailing during the emergency, and boards . . . should ensure that such professionals’ and providers’ actions are assessed in the context of the standards of care, including any state waivers or health orders, in effect during an emergency, rather than with the benefit of hindsight.” This protects consumers by prioritizing investigations related to vaccine delivery under these orders, but also protects dentists from liability caused by the administration of the vaccine. In addition to dentists, the Executive Order extends the liability waiver to any physician, pharmacist, registered nurse, nurse practitioner, or any other type of nurse.
These orders are effective immediately and may be amended as circumstances require.