With health centers across the country taking an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to administering the COVID-19 vaccine to as many of their patients and communities as possible, dentists and dental teams are being utilized to make these labor-intensive efforts possible. Now, a new federal declaration published March 11 permits licensed dentists and dental students throughout the country to vaccinate the public against COVID-19, regardless of state laws that prevent dentists from doing so.
“I love that we have found yet another way we can integrate service lines in FQHC settings, “says Lisa Bozzetti, DDS, Dental Director, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, Hillsboro, Oregon. “At the start of the pandemic, dental was pulled from Dentists administer vaccines, load vaccine syringes, enter patient data into electronic medical records while others on the dental team help with check-in of patients, cleaning rooms, among other vaccine clinic operations. Now, the dental team is regularly reassigned to vaccine clinics allowing the health center to expand capacity to host large vaccination clinics across the organization.
COVID-19 Vaccine Training for Dental Teams
“Dentists and hygienists are used to giving injections in the mouth while aiming for specific nerves so to give a vaccine is not a large lift,” says Dr. Ethan Kerns, DDS, Chief Dental Officer, Salud Family Health Centers, Fort Lupton, Colorado. “Some elective treatment and helped with COVID-19 testing and our pharmacy, so this feels like a natural extension of that.”
Dr. Bozzetti shares that their dental teams have been supporting COVID-19 vaccine administration alongside the medical teams since mid-February. Oregon passed a law in 2019 allowing dentists to administer all vaccines, so Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center’s dental team actually began their COVID-19 vaccination training in January through a curriculum offered by Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU).
Resources for Training Providers on How to Administer COVID-19 Vaccines
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers several free self-paced modules in one CDC-hosted training course to train dentists and other health care providers about how to administer the COVID-19 vaccine and learn about the three vaccines currently available.
With each state having its own requirements for COVID-19 vaccination training, the American Dental Association has compiled this resource with links to training and educational resources related to the COVID-19 vaccine from federal and state governments and nongovernmental organizations.