Veterinarians in some areas authorized to administer COVID vaccines

Would you give a shot to get a shot? It could happen.

In a recent interview on the Today Show, Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, the new director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she hopes the Biden administration can recruit additional qualified healthcare personnel to help administer the vaccine: “We need to make sure . . . that we have commissioned health corps, medical military, retirees, medical students and nursing students just about to graduate, dentists, and veterinarians in order to be out there to vaccinate the public.”

With supplies of the vaccine in short supply nationwide, that eventuality might seem remote at the moment, but some states have been thinking ahead.

On December 7, the Connecticut Department of Public Health issued an order authorizing veterinarians—and podiatrists, dentists, dental hygienists, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics—who have received proper training to administer the COVID-19 vaccine should the need arise.

On January 7, Colorado followed suit when Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order—an amendment to executive order D 2020 038 issued April 15, 2020—approving temporary emergency authorization for veterinarians (along with a long list of other healthcare professionals) to administer the COVID vaccine. The authorization will stay in place until February 6 unless it is extended.

On January 14, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak issued a directive authorizing veterinarians—and dentists, dental hygienists, and podiatrists—to give the vaccine, reports KVVU-TV in Las Vegas.

Given Walensky’s comments on the Today Show, more states are likely to issue similar directives. Especially if states sweeten the recruitment pot, as could be the case in Ohio.

Veterinarians in Ohio have not been authorized to administer the vaccine . . . yet. Jack Advent, executive director of the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association told NEWStat that the state has asked veterinary workers to volunteer for a reserve medical corps to back up human healthcare workers should the need arise. He said that could include administering vaccinations.

And that could allow Ohio veterinarians—who have no official designation in the state’s vaccine rollout—to jump the vaccination queue.

“If they’re called to [give vaccinations] and they want to do that, they would be vaccinated prior to participating in that,” Advent said, depending on vaccine availability.

Advent added that if such a directive were to come down, there’s been no indication that veterinarians would be designated as Phase 1A. “Maybe 1B,” he said. “With an asterisk.”

Give a vaccination, get a vaccination? We’ll see.

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NEWStat Legislation & regulation