Earlier this month, the Minnesota Senate passed legislation allowing dentists to administer the flu and the COVID-19 vaccine to patients with vaccine training. The legislation which I chief authored gives our state much-needed flexibility with its vaccination plan, particularly in rural communities.

While it hasn’t been adopted into law yet, the legislation passed unanimously on a vote of 67-0 in the Senate and is just waiting to be passed in the House.

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more readily available, we want to ensure that Minnesota and all its communities have the flexibility to administer the vaccine quickly in our communities. Our state’s rollout has been rocky to date, but as we look to improve and begin to receive doses in larger quantities, having additional administers will allow us to deliver the vaccine quickly, safely, and efficiently across the entire state.

This concept isn’t entirely out of the blue. Minnesota already allows for trained dentists to administer the flu vaccine to patients 19 years old and over. This bill tweaks the law so dentists can administer both the flu and the COVID-19 vaccine to patients 16 years old or older so long as they’ve received the proper vaccine training.

Another reason to adopt this legislation is to support our health care workers. At the front line of this pandemic since day one, our health care workers have fought this virus on all fronts. The challenges they have faced have been immense, and the workload has been overwhelming. By adding more providers, we’re helping to ease some of their burden.

Although currently there is a lack of available COVID-19 vaccine in Minnesota to fully take advantage of all these providers, we should be prepared for when we can. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the practice and is encouraging further training of more health care professionals to give the COVID-19 vaccine to prepare for mass vaccinations.

This idea is also supported by dentists and has been adopted in other states. According to the American Dental Association, 20 states currently allow dentists to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Since we passed the bill, several other states have also moved to consider the idea too.

Legislation like this allows Minnesotans of all parties to come together to do something to fight back against the pandemic. It’s been a tough year, but moving forward, I know that Minnesotans can work together to develop strategies that will allow our state to safely and quickly remerge from this experience.

Rich Draheim represents District 20 in the Minnesota Senate.

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