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House vote puts dentists a step closer to aiding vaccine distribution efforts

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. A House bill passed Thursday would allow dentists to help vaccine distribution efforts. House Photography file photo

Dentists are currently qualified to administer influenza vaccines – but they may soon be able to provide COVID-19 vaccines as well.

Passed 131-0 by the House Thursday, HF789/SF475*, previously amended by a House committee, returns to the Senate for concurrence.

“Dentists are members of our health care community and want to do their part to help administer the COVID-19 vaccine,” Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Velley), the House sponsor, told the House Health Finance and Policy Committee Feb. 17.

The bill was originally passed 67-0 by the Senate Feb. 8. The sponsor there is Sen. Rich Draheim (R-Madison Lake).

The change is intended to support wide scale vaccine distribution efforts across the state, enabling dentists to administer vaccines in community settings and with local public health organizations. Freiberg said this could be especially beneficial in rural parts of the state.

“Having a large, strong, and reliable provider workforce to vaccinate the population will help ensure that when the state receives vaccine doses, that they get into the arms of Minnesotans as quickly as possible,” Freiberg said.

Patients would need to be at least 16 years old; dentists must have successfully completed an educational program on vaccine administration provided by the Board of Dentistry; and they would need to have access to emergency response equipment – including epinephrine.

More than 20 states allow dentists to assist in vaccine distribution efforts, while others are currently considering it, Freiberg said.

When it was considered in committee, no fiscal cost to the state was anticipated.

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