Issue Background

SB3409 Dentists Administering Vaccines Has Moved to the House

Dentists Administering Vaccines

Dentistry’s Position: Support

Sponsor: Representative Laura Fine

A dentist enrolled in a medical network or enrolled as a Medicare or Medicaid provider may administer vaccinations upon completion of appropriate training on how to address contraindications and adverse reactions.  Vaccinations shall be limited to patients 18 years of age and older pursuant to a valid prescription or standing order by a physician.  In addition, vaccinations shall be limited to influenza (inactivated influenza vaccine) with notification to the patient’s physician and with appropriate reporting and record retention.

The Illinois State Dental Society supports this bill for the following reasons:

  • In Illinois last year, there were 98 deaths and 600 ICU hospitalizations related to influenza, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • The legislation is similar to the provisions in the Pharmacy Act that allow pharmacists to vaccinate patients with notification to the physician and appropriate record retention.
  • This change will increase the number of qualified providers giving vaccines safely in both rural and urban areas when there may not be a physician or clinic.
  • Dentists receive a four-year Doctorate degree with the ability to perform a wide range of oral surgical procedures including diagnostic and prescriptive authority.  Educational areas include full body anatomy, pharmacology, biochemistry, physiology, cellular histology, medical emergencies, neurology and internal medicine before receiving a DDS or DMD degree. 
  • Existing physician shortages are expected to worsen.  In one-fifth of Illinois counties, there are already widespread shortages of primary care doctors.  Another 200 pockets of Illinois also have shortages, both in urban and rural areas. It would take nearly 1,000 new primary doctors to bring all these areas of Illinois to an adequate level of supply.
  • An estimated 31 million people in new employer plans and 10 million people in individual plans will benefit from the new preventive provision (vaccines) under the Affordable Care Act.  The result will be a serious lack of access to providers for these expanded services.  Dentists will be able to help alleviate this chronic shortage of providers if allowed to administer vaccines.
  • 27 million more patients visit a dental office than they do a physician’s office each year.

Expanding the number of providers willing to administer recognized safe and effective vaccines will enhance the safety of the citizens of Illinois and will reduce the overall cost on the health care system by keeping people out of the hospitals.

In Illinois last year, there were 98 deaths related to influenza and 600 ICU hospitalizations according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.  Annually 28,000 to 48,000 people die nationwide, with only 40% of Americans receiving a flu vaccine.

To date, nearly 2,000 dentists have been trained in Basic Disaster Life Support through the Disaster Emergency Medicine Responders Training Office, a major component of which is inoculation training. 

Dentists have the necessary education and skills to provide vaccines to the public and help prevent many of the serious medical situations that develop when people don’t receive vaccines. A general dentist gives thousands of intraoral injections of anesthesia each year as a matter of normal dental treatment.

Given the severity of recent flu seasons, it only makes sense to expand the public’s access to the flu vaccine as well as other immunizations, particularly in rural and underserved areas where access to a pharmacist or physicians is likely to be limited.

Since 2002, 20 additional states have passed laws allowing pharmacists to administer at least some vaccines, bringing the total to 50 states with such laws, according to the American Pharmacists Association in Washington.

Illinois should continue to be a leader by being the first state to expand the safety net for its citizens by allowing highly qualified dentists the option of providing vaccines to patients as a preventive service.

Click here to a direct link to SB3409.