ADEA Hails Federal Approval for Role of Dentists and Qualified Dental Students in COVID Vaccinations

March 12, 2021—The Biden administration’s decision to allow dentists and qualified dental students to administer the COVID-19 vaccine is a welcome and important step in winning the fight against the deadly pandemic, according to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA).

Immediate Release Contact

“During the pandemic, many states granted dentists the authority to administer the vaccine, and President Biden’s decision to expand that authority at the federal level underscores the crucial role that dentists play in safeguarding our nation’s health,” said Dr. Karen West, ADEA President and CEO.

“It’s equally heartening to see a federal recognition of the pivotal role that dental students—with the proper training and under supervision—can play in this unprecedented vaccination effort.”

The Biden decision came in the form of an amendment to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness ActPDF , which added “additional categories of qualified persons” to those who could administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Nine additional types of health care professionals, including dentists, are named, and a separate section mentions various kinds of students, including dental, “with appropriate training in administering vaccines as determined by his or her school or training program and supervision by a currently practicing health care professional experienced in administering intramuscular injections.”

The addition of dentists and dental students is part of an aggressive federal effort to expand the pool of qualified professionals able to administer shots and hasten the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to the U.S. population.

President Biden outlined his plan in an address to the nation Thursday night, a speech that came one year after the outbreak of the pandemic brought the nation to a virtual halt. Biden said that life in the United States could return to some kind of normal by the Fourth of July—even though he urged Americans to adhere to social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines. 

“After this long hard year, that will make this Independence Day something truly special where we not only mark our independence as a nation, but we begin to mark our independence from this virus,” Biden said.

The federal recognition of dentists on the COVID-19 vaccination front comes in the wake of months of sustained advocacy by several health organizations, including ADEA, for the government to take full advantage of the medical expertise that dentists possess.

ADEA is also a member of Students Assist America, an interprofessional initiative of 11 associations that banded together to lobby state and federal leaders to give hundreds of thousands of students the opportunity to help vaccinate the public.

Dr. West said the response of the dental community has been one of the silver linings during a challenging time for the nation. “At the onset of the pandemic, our community was hit especially hard by the pandemic as both the practice of dentistry and the education of students came to a temporary halt,” Dr. West said. “But we didn’t break. Instead, we’ve supported our communities by delivering crucial health care, and we’ve redoubled our efforts to educate the next generation of oral health professionals by embracing innovation in how we teach. Along the way, we’ve amply demonstrated that dentists and oral health professionals are invaluable partners in an integrated health care team.”

About ADEA: The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) is The Voice of Dental Education. Our mission is to lead and support the health professions community in preparing future-ready oral health professionals. Our members include all 79 accredited U.S. and Canadian dental schools, more than 800 allied and advanced dental education programs, more than 50 corporations and approximately 15,000 individuals. Our activities encompass a wide range of research, advocacy, faculty development, meetings and communications, including the esteemed Journal of Dental Education®, as well as the dental school application services ADEA AADSAS®, ADEA PASS®, ADEA DHCAS® and ADEA CAAPID®