ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — As health officials work towards administering the COVID-19 vaccine in a safe and speedy way – we’re now turning to dentists. Dentists from all over the nine-county Finger Lakes Region are applying to help administer COVID shots in this effort to reach herd immunity.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed an executive order allowing dentists to be vaccinators for COVID-19 — and Eastman Institute for Oral Health in Rochester confirmed this will eventually be the case locally.
The order reads:
The suspensions and modifications contained in Executive Order 202.82 that permit licensed practical nurses, licensed pharmacists, midwives, dentists, dental hygienists who have been issued a dental hygiene restricted local infiltration anesthesia/nitrous oxide analgesia certificate in accordance with section 6605-b of the Education law, podiatrists, emergency medical technicians, advanced emergency medical technicians, and emergency medical technician paramedics, to administer vaccinations against COVID-19 are hereby modified only to the extent necessary to permit the aforementioned individuals to administer vaccinations against COVID-19 provided that such individuals meet conditions set by the Commissioner of Health.
You may be thinking – will I be able to just drive to my dentist’s office to get the vaccine? The answer is no, but a dentist could be the one administering your shot. Dentists will only be administering shots at locations that are state approved vaccine hubs for distribution.
“As we all know, dentists are very experienced in providing injections,” said Holly Barone, Chief Operating Officer for Eastman Institute for Oral Health. Barone says there’s a lot of dentists who want to give back, and this is their opportunity. She says there is a brief training for these dentists before they come onboard.
The executive order isn’t just calling on dentists – but also midwives, those in retirement and students in medicine as well. All of this, primarily to get more hands on deck and speed up the vaccination process so as to not waste any vaccines, and to reach herd immunity faster. Barone says she was surprised at the news when she heard dentists could play a role.
“We all are very much aware the fact that we have to get to that 70% vaccination status for herd immunity, the quicker we are able to roll this out the better,” said Barone.
Barone says in addition to adding more professions to speed up the process, there’s also plans on making it more accessible to everyone.
“URMC is looking at, as early as this week, opening up a hub clinic downtown. There will be another one early as next week here on Medical Center Campus,” she said. “It’s our effort to reach out to community help give back in any way get people vaccinated in quick way possible.”
Other states like California and Alabama are also recruiting dentists for vaccine rollout. Barone says this will not effect how dental practices run – it will be something dentists participate on the weekends and on their off hours.
As of right now, no dentists are participating yet as they’re in the process of applying.