ADA supports pandemic preparedness legislation

Washington - The American Dental Association is supporting the Prepare for and Respond to Existing Viruses, Emerging New Threats, and Pandemics Act, or PREVENT Pandemics Act.

The bill would leverage best practices and lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to enhance the nation's response to future public health emergencies.

In a March 30 letter to the leadership of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, ADA President Cesar R. Sabates, D.D.S., and Executive Director Raymond A. Cohlmia, D.D.S., said the COVID-19 pandemic "reinforced the vital roles dentists can play in response to a nationwide public health emergency."

"One of those roles was realized when dentists were granted nationwide authority to administer the COVID-19 vaccines under the PREP Act," Drs. Sabates and Cohlmia wrote. "Another was realized when 24 states and the District of Columbia granted dentists the authority to administer COVID-19 tests that were approved by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use only."

The bill would better incorporate elements of the National Response Framework into federal decisions on pandemic preparedness. Since this framework already recognizes dentistry as a vital countermeasure during public health emergencies, the bill is an opportunity for dentistry to be part of those decisions. In addition, the legislation aims to improve coordination among federal agencies and leverage the expertise and resources of public and private partners, including the ADA.

The letter also noted that the PREVENT Pandemics Act would establish a pilot project to determine the impact a student loan repayment benefit would have on building the nation's bio-preparedness and response infrastructure.

"More can be done to ensure dentists are granted the necessary authorities to mobilize sooner, and we would welcome the opportunity to explore that further," Drs. Sabates and Cohlmia wrote. "In the meantime, this bill will move us one step closer to optimizing the nation's response to public health emergencies."

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