Tuesday, October 11, 2022

HHS Authorizes Dentists, Dental Students to Administer Vaccines Against Monkeypox

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is amending a Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act declaration to authorize additional providers, including dentists and dental students, to vaccinate patients against monkeypox virus, smallpox and other orthopoxviruses in a declared emergency, according to an Oct. 3 news release.

The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, or PREP Act, allows the Health and Human Services Secretary to issue a medical countermeasures declaration in public health emergencies. HHS previously amended the Act in 2021 to allow dentists and dental students to administer COVID-19 vaccines, which the ADA advocated for and supported.

“As our [vaccine supply] steadily increases, we are now exceeding demand in all 50 states," said Dawn O'Connell, HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. “By expanding the pool of providers who can administer monkeypox vaccines, we can increase equitable access for people at high risk for monkeypox infections who have not yet had an opportunity to get vaccinated."

The HHS news release also noted that authorized providers “must administer all countermeasures in accordance with all relevant requirements and recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and consistent with the scope of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval, authorization, and any applicable expanded access requirements of FDA's protocol.”

The news release also said the amendment does the following:

• Makes explicit that the declaration “applies to public health threats arising from smallpox (variola virus), monkeypox virus, and other orthopoxviruses,” noting that in 2008, HHS issued a declaration under the PREP Act for smallpox medical countermeasures which was amended in 2016 to provide liability coverage for “smallpox countermeasures against variola virus or other orthopoxviruses,” including monkeypox.

• Extends the effective time period of the declaration to Dec. 31, 2032, which allows coverage for manufacturers, distributors and other covered persons through that date.

• Allows coverage “for administration of countermeasures by subcutaneous, intradermal, or intramuscular injections, dermal/percutaneous scarification, orally or intranasally in response to a declared emergency by authorized qualified trained persons to be extended during the relevant emergency or Dec. 31, 2032, whichever occurs first. A declared emergency can be any federal, state, regional, or local declaration.”

For more information about monkeypox and PREP Act coverage, visit the HHS Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response's website.

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