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Your Dentist, Podiatrist, and Vet Can Now Administer COVID-19 Vaccines

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Key Takeaways

  • In order to expand the pool of vaccinators as supplies increase around the country, the White House has added to the list of health professionals who can administer the vaccines. 
  • The additions to the list include professionals like veterinarians, dentists, podiatrists, and midwives. 
  • Volunteers must take an online training course and be observed by an experienced healthcare professional before administering vaccines.
  • While serious side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are extraordinarily rare, vaccinators must be certified in CPR.

When you get your COVID-19 vaccine, take a minute to ask your vaccinator what health profession he or she is in. You might be speaking to a midwife or podiatrist. 

While many of those administering vaccines are nurses, doctors, and pharmacists, on March 12, the White House amended current regulations to expand the pool of health professionals who can administer the vaccine. The list now includes:

  • Dentists
  • Emergency Medical Technicians (Advanced and Intermediate EMTs)
  • Midwives
  • Optometrists
  • Paramedics
  • Physician Assistants
  • Podiatrists
  • Respiratory Therapists
  • Veterinarians

While some states already permitted an expanded list of health professionals to give the vaccine, the new update applies to all states. 

The goal, according to the White House, is to have enough vaccinators as the supply of doses continues to increase and all adults in the U.S. become eligible for vaccination by May 1.

“We must be intentional about making vaccination easy and convenient for everyone, and key to that effort is having enough vaccinators to deliver shots in arms,” said Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, head of the White House COVID-19 Equity Task Force, at the White House COVID-19 reporter’s briefing on March 12. 

To make this change, President Biden ordered an amendment to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act Declaration—originally declared in January 2020 under President Trump—to authorize additional categories of qualified professionals to prescribe, dispense, and administer COVID-19 vaccines anywhere in the country. The amendment also includes retired health professionals. 

What This Means For You

You still won't be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine during your routine dental visit, and you won't be able to call up your veterinarian for a shot. These newly-eligible vaccinators are being deployed to mass vaccination and FEMA-run sites. However, more of these health professionals should be able to talk knowledgeably about vaccines with their regular patients, helping to quell vaccine hesitancy.

How to Volunteer

People interested in volunteering have quite a few steps they’ll need to take before they can stick a needle in anyone’s arm, including: 

  • Documentation of completion of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 online vaccine training
  • Documentation of an observation period by a currently practicing healthcare professional experienced in administering intramuscular injections. (Each of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized so far are administered into muscle in the upper arm.) 
  • Current certification in basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Anaphylaxis, a very rare side effect of the vaccines, could require CPR for resuscitation.

Medical students must be supervised by a currently-practicing healthcare professional experienced in administering intramuscular injections.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched an Online Vaccinator Portal so that people can check whether they are eligible to administer the vaccine. The portal also contains training links.

“The online training is important and welcomed for those of us who haven’t given injections in a while,” Georges Benjamin, MD, MPH, executive director of the American Public Health Association, tells Verywell. Benjamin, a former emergency room physician who previously “gave a lot of injections,” volunteered as a COVID-19 vaccinator in Washington DC several weeks ago, but only after watching vaccine training videos online and watching a nurse administer a few of the shots at the vaccination clinic. 

HHS is welcoming volunteers who sign up, but also reaching out to health professional associations, schools of health professions, public health and emergency management stakeholders, and state and local health officers to get the word out about volunteer opportunities, according to the White House. 

Meet the Volunteers

Jane Grover, DDS, MPH, director of the Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention at the American Dental Association, has completed her CDC vaccination training and hopes to begin volunteering in Chicago, Illinois, soon. Grover was a community health dentist for more than a decade. 

“Dentists have always been interested in addressing any patient concerns and have always been vaccine cheerleaders,” Grover tells Verywell. “Volunteering as vaccinators gives dentists even more information to use when discussing the COVID-19 vaccines with patients.”

Hoa Nguyen Audette, DDS, a dentist in Chula Vista, California, has been volunteering at vaccine clinics and even shutting down her dental practice some days to increase the number of people she can vaccinate—sometimes as many as 100 in a day. 

“Because our profession routinely uses needles and drills, we are specially trained in handling fearful patients,” Audette tells Verywell. “We have, in our arsenal of training, a wide variety of methods and techniques available to alleviate fear while giving an injection. In fact, I have had many returning vaccinated patients requesting to have ‘the dentist’ administer their second dose.”

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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  1. The White House. Fact sheet: President Biden expands efforts to recruit more vaccinators. March 12, 2021.

  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Expanding the COVID-19 vaccination workforce. Published March 12, 2021.