Health and Science

Dentists, veterinarians and med students authorized to administer Covid shots as Biden expands vaccine program

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Key Points
  • The Biden administration will allow a wider array of medical workers, including dentists, veterinarians, EMTs and medical students, to begin administering Covid-19 vaccines.
  • HHS is using its authority under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act to authorize the measure.
  • The move comes after President Joe Biden announced Thursday that he will push every state to make all adults eligible for vaccines by May 1.
A U.S. Army soldier from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, immunizes Jacklina Mendez with the COVID-19 vaccine at the Miami Dade College North Campus on March 09, 2021 in North Miami, Florida.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images

The Biden administration will allow a wider array of medical workers, including dentists, veterinarians, EMTs and medical students, to begin administering Covid-19 shots as part of its "war-time" effort to get the nation closer to normal by midsummer.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is using its authority under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act to authorize more medical professionals and qualified students to administer the shots, the agency said in a statement Friday.

That means dentists, EMTs, midwives, optometrists, paramedics, physician assistants, podiatrists, respiratory therapists and veterinarians can begin administering Covid-19 vaccines nationwide, according to HHS.

It also authorizes "medical students, nursing students, and other health care students in the professions listed under the PREP Act with proper training and professional supervision to serve as vaccinators," the statement said.

The move comes after President Joe Biden announced Thursday evening that he will direct all U.S. states, tribes and territories to make all adults, ages 18 and up, eligible for the coronavirus vaccines by May 1.

The president, during his first prime-time address to the nation on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, said the aim is for Americans to be able to gather in small, in-person groups to celebrate the Fourth of July.

"That does not mean that everyone will get a shot immediately, but May 1 is the date every adult will be eligible to sign up to get the shot," Biden's Covid czar Jeff Zients said at a news briefing Friday. "By the end of May, we expect to have enough vaccine supply for all adults in this country."

The U.S. is now administering a weekly average of 2.2 million vaccines per day. Roughly 65% of Americans age 65 and older are now inoculated, Zients said. Just more than a quarter of adults age 18 and older have now been given at least one shot of vaccine, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We're making progress, but there's more work to do," he said.

On Monday, the CDC released its first set of guidance for people who are fully vaccinated, which says they can now mingle with other vaccinated people inside without masks or social distancing.

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