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February 2021 Update: California Department of Consumer Affairs Extends and Issues Additional Healthcare Professional Licensing Waivers

This is the latest in a series of articles discussing selected updates to the Department of Consumer Affairs’ (DCA) waivers issued in response to Governor Newsom’s March 30, 2020 Executive Order N-39-20, which authorized the DCA to temporarily waive or suspend certain professional licensing requirements for healthcare professionals licensed under the California Business and Professions Code (Code).

Healthcare providers and facilities should continue reviewing the DCA waivers page for a complete list of DCA waivers and to understand the scope and limitations of the temporary waivers.

Orders Waiving Restrictions on Certain Professions Relating to COVID-19 Vaccines

We’ve previously described the DCA’s August 25, 2020 order Waiving Restrictions on Pharmacies, Pharmacists, and Pharmacy Technicians Relating to Ordering, Collecting Specimens for, and Performing COVID-19 Tests, which withdrew and superseded the DCA’s May 12, 2020 order and its July 7, 2020 extension.  The DCA has supplemented the August 25, 2020 order, which has no specified expiration date, with further orders regarding COVID-19 vaccines.  The recent orders expand which licensed professionals are permitted to order and/or administer COVID-19 vaccines by waiving specified provisions of the Code.

1. Order Waiving Restrictions on Pharmacy Technicians Relating to Administering COVID-19 Vaccines

This December 22, 2020 order authorized pharmacy technicians to administer COVID-19 vaccines and epinephrine by injection, subject to specified conditions.  For example, a supervising pharmacist must be authorized to independently initiate and administer the vaccine, must delegate the task, and must maintain direct supervision and control of the pharmacy technician.  Like many other DCA orders, the order does not provide an expiration date and “may be amended as circumstances require.”

2. Order Waiving Restrictions on Dentists Relating to Ordering and Administering COVID-19 Vaccines

This January 27, 2021 order authorized dentists, subject to specified conditions, to independently initiate and administer any FDA approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines to individuals who are at least sixteen years old, and to initiate and administer epinephrine or diphenhydramine by injection for severe allergic reaction.  The order has no specified expiration date and “may be amended as circumstances require.”  Although the January 27 order withdraws and supersedes the DCA’s January 4, 2021 order, it permits dentists who completed training specified in its January 4 order and administered vaccines to conduct the activities authorized by the January 27 order.

3. Order Waiving Restrictions on Registered Dental Hygienists Relating to Administering COVID-19 Vaccines

One of four February 11, 2021 COVID-19 vaccine-related orders authorized dental hygienists, subject to certain conditions, to administer any FDA approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines to individuals who were at least sixteen years old, and to administer epinephrine or diphenhydramine by injection for severe allergic reaction.  The order “may be amended as circumstances require.”

4. Order Waiving Restrictions on Postgraduate Training Licensees Ordering and Administering COVID-19 Vaccines Outside of Their Postgraduate Training Program

This February 11, 2021 order authorized individuals with active and unrestricted postgraduate training licenses to order and administer COVID-19 vaccines outside their program without the program director’s approval, subject to certain conditions, through May 12, 2021, unless extended further.

5. Order Waiving Restrictions on Optometrists Relating to Ordering and Administering COVID-19 Vaccines

The third February 11, 2021 order authorized licensed optometrists, subject to certain conditions, to independently order and administer any FDA approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines to individuals who were at least sixteen years old, and to order and administer epinephrine or diphenhydramine by injection for severe allergic reaction.  The order “may be amended as circumstances require.”

6. Order Waiving Restrictions on Doctors of Podiatric Medicine Relating to Ordering and Administering COVID-19 Vaccines

The last February 11, 2021 order authorized certified podiatric doctors, subject to specified conditions, to independently initiate and administer any FDA approved or authorized COVID-19 vaccines to individuals who were at least sixteen years old, and to initiate and administer epinephrine or diphenhydramine by injection for severe allergic reaction.  The order “may be amended as circumstances require.”

Orders Extending Modifications of Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, and Nurse-Midwife Supervision By 60 Days

The DCA further extended three waivers temporarily modifying physician assistant, nurse practitioner, and nurse-midwife supervision requirements in its January 26, 2021 order, which will now be valid until April 9, 2021.  The waivers were originally issued in April 14, 2020 orders and were subsequently extended multiple times, including in an August 11, 2020 order and an October 2, 2020 order.

Orders Waiving License Renewal Requirements

For Division 2 licensees, including various healthcare providers, with active licenses expiring between January 1, 2021, and February 28, 2021, a December 15, 2020 order waived license renewal examination and continuing education requirements.  The waived renewal requirements must now be satisfied by June 15, 2021, unless extended further.  The order does not waive any continuing education, training, or examination required by a disciplinary order, and licensees must still comply with other renewal requirements, such as submitting required paperwork to their licensing boards.

Orders Waiving License Reactivation or Restoration Requirements

For Division 2 licensees whose licenses have been retired, inactive, or canceled for no longer than five years, another December 15, 2020 order temporarily waived continuing education requirements and certain fees.  Reactivated or restored licenses under this waiver are now valid until the earlier of July 1, 2021, or the end of the state of emergency.  Individuals must still comply with other reactivation or restoration requirements, such as submitting renewal forms to their licensing agency.  The waiver does not apply to licenses revoked or surrendered due to disciplinary proceedings or to licenses that were retired, inactive, or canceled after a disciplinary proceeding began.  This order withdrew and superseded the DCA’s March 31, 2020 and September 17, 2020 orders. 

Orders Waiving Postgraduate Training License Deadline

In two December 15, 2020 orders, the DCA temporarily waived deadlines for individuals enrolled in postgraduate training programs to obtain postgraduate training licenses (PTLs), as follows:

  1. In the earlier December 15, 2020 order regarding PTLs, for postgraduate trainees enrolled on January 1, 2020, the DCA temporarily waived the June 30, 2020 deadline to obtain a PTL from the Medical Board of California or Osteopathic Medical Board of California if a PTL is obtained by March 31, 2021.  All Code Section 2064.5 privileges and exemptions will automatically expire if an individual fails to obtain a PTL by March 31.  The order does not change any other requirements necessary for a PTL or the 39-month licensing exemption period during which postgraduate trainees without a physician’s and surgeon’s certificate may practice medicine in approved programs, pursuant to Sections 2064.5(b) and 2065(d).  The order withdrew and superseded previous orders, including those on May 6, 2020, and October 22, 2020
  2. In the later December 15, 2020 order on this topic, for postgraduate trainees initially enrolled between June 1, 2020, and July 31, 2020, the DCA temporarily waived the deadline to obtain a PTL within 180 days of enrollment, as long as a PTL is obtained by March 31, 2021.  The order is otherwise subject to the same limitations described above.

Orders Waiving Requirements for Pre-Licensure Nursing Programs and Students

The DCA further extended adjustments affecting nursing programs and nursing students in the two December 17, 2020 orders below, which were previously extended, including on July 31, 2020.  The orders are now set to expire on June 30, 2021.

  1. Order Extending April 3, 2020 Order Waiving Restrictions on Nursing Student Clinical Hours (December 17, 2020)
  2. Order Extending May 4, 2020 Order Waiving Nursing Preceptorship Requirements and Restrictions on Nursing Student Clinical Training (December 17, 2020)

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