With health care workers stretched thin responding to record numbers of coronavirus hospitalizations, many states are scrambling to find extra hands with the skills to help get shots into arms. Some are finding the solution to this problem with the help of dentists and retirees.
A report released by the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and National Governors Association in December cited 20 states that are considering recruiting non-traditional providers, including dentists.
In January, the first dentist in the US administered a Covid-19 vaccine in Oregon. Also, in January, the California Department of Consumer Affairs approved an emergency waiver to accelerate the pace of vaccination by allowing dentists to administer Covid-19 vaccines. In February, Minnesota passed legislation that allows dentists to be trained and administer influenza and COVID-19 vaccines to patients. States like Illinois and Arkansas are also taking this innovative measure and have approved a change to allow dentists to administer COVID-19 vaccines.
Dentists are a possible resource to administer vaccinations because they are already trained to provide injections in complex areas. Compared to navigating obstacles in the mouth including gag reflexes, major blood vessels, nerves and a moving tongue, a shot in the arm is simple.
Another compelling reason to give dentists the access to administer vaccinations: annually, more than 18 million people visit the dentist but not a primary care physician or other medical professional. Many dental professionals, especially those operating in community health care settings, are well positioned to serve as an important public health access point for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Oral health providers have previously been involved in administering vaccines during significant flu outbreaks and other health emergencies. Already, states like Illinois and Minnesota allow dentists to administer flu vaccines. Oregon passed a law in 2019 permitting dentists to administer vaccines more broadly.
Getting a vaccine at your dentist may not be available today. But getting your annual dental exam and other dental care certainly is.
A high quality, low-cost dental plan through ASBA can help with the expense of check-ups, fillings, and more. Learn More.