Dentists Now Able to Administer COVID-19 Vaccine

Samantha Scott, Staff Writer

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Jan. 4, that dentists throughout the state can now administer the COVID-19 vaccine. The California Department of Consumer Affairs approved this method of distribution by enacting an emergency public health waiver in an attempt to speed up vaccine distribution efforts. 

“California dentists would need to undergo training through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for administration, contraindications, and adverse reactions before they’ll be allowed to give FDA-approved coronavirus vaccinations,” Giacomo Luca of ABC 10 in Sacramento stated in an article discussing this administration update. Contraindications refer to specific situations or conditions that serve as reasons to withhold a medical treatment because it would harm the patient. Adverse reactions are defined as undesirable harmful effects resulting from a medication. 

“I think that since dentists aren’t extremely busy during this time, it’s a great idea for them to help administer vaccines, which will hopefully accelerate the process. Also, I would definitely trust my dentist to give me the vaccine if the time comes,” junior Annie Hammond said. 

Experience with administering injections that provide sedatives and anesthesia in hard to reach places like patients’ mouths, as well as the ability to recognize signs of an allergic reaction, make dentists, once trained, highly capable of distributing the vaccine. They also follow strict safety protocols from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to guarantee the safety of those in their offices, especially during the pandemic. 

“Even though we are authorized to administer vaccines, in order to vaccinate the public, we as dentists are still required to take three hours of specific training and complete about 16 hours of compliance/regulatory paperwork to become a vaccination site. Many places such as CVS or Rite Aid already have that, so it makes more sense to have people go there. I think some dentists will choose to volunteer to administer vaccines at other locations, but few will do so at our offices,” Peter Heckler DDS of Heckler Family Dentistry in Orinda said.

Other complications arise if dentists wish to administer vaccines from their offices. According to Heckler,  one is a lack of appropriate storage areas with cold temperatures for the vaccine. A second complication is accommodating an irregular pattern of patient flow due to needing to monitor recipients for at least 10 minutes following their vaccination. 

California has administered more than 454,000 doses of the new vaccines over the last three weeks. There are another 1.9 million doses on the way. With only under one-third of doses in California administered to residents; this public health waiver will ease the current burden on the healthcare system as a whole. 

“I fully support allowing dentists to administer the COVID-19 vaccine because it will help with vaccine distribution in California and seems completely logical. I would definitely feel comfortable receiving my vaccine from my dentist,” junior Lily Wood said. 

“When I heard that governor Gavin Newsom was allowing dentists to give the vaccine, I went online to receive the training and certification to administer the COVID Vaccine. As a dentist, you are well trained and experienced giving injections. Giving a vaccine in the arm is going to be much easier. With more than 28,000 dentists in California, it is a tremendous resource that can help vaccinate the community at a faster rate,” Neil Katsura DDS of Aloha Pediatric Dentistry located in Berkeley and Orinda said.