By Dimitri Davis
AB 526 (Wood), as amended September 1, 2021, would amend section 1209 and add sections 1625.6 and 1645.2 to the Business and Professions Code, which would allow dentists to independently prescribe and administer influenza and COVID-19 vaccines approved or authorized by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to persons 3 years of age or older. [26:2 CRLR 11] August 20, 2021, at its meeting [Agenda Item 25(b)iv], the Dental Board of California (DBC) expressed support for AB 526.
Under current law, dentistry is defined as the diagnosis or treatment, by surgery or other methods, of diseases and lesions and the correction of malposition of the human teeth, alveolar process, gums, jaws, or associated structures, and provides that diagnosis or treatment may include all necessary related procedures as well as the use of drugs, anesthetic agents, and physical evaluation. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor proclaimed a state of emergency and authorized executive order N-39-20. This allowed the Director of the Department of Consumer Affairs, to the extent necessary and only for the duration of the declared emergency, to waive the professional licensing requirements and amend scopes of practice in the Business and Professions Code.
On January 27, 2021, the Director of the Department of Consumer Affairs waived the Business and Professions Code section 1625 to the extent it prohibited licensed dentists from independently initiating and administering COVID-19 vaccines that were approved or authorized by the FDA to persons 16 years of age or older. This allowed dentists to temporarily support other healthcare officials in their pandemic mitigation efforts.
AB 526 would authorize dentists to maintain the emergency authority granted in the pandemic to administer COVID-19 and Influenza vaccines. To be eligible, a dentist would need to complete an immunization training program biennially that is either offered by the CDC or taken through a registered provider approved by the Dental Board that, at a minimum, includes vaccine administration, prevention and management of adverse reactions, and maintenance of vaccine records. Dentists would also need to comply with all state and federal recordkeeping and reporting requirements, including providing documentation to the patient’s primary care provider, if applicable, and entering in the information in the appropriate immunization registry designated by the Immunization Branch of the State Department of Public Health.
Governor Newsom signed AB 526 on October 8, 2021 (Chapter 653, Statutes of 2021).