Following CDC Vote, Leading Oral Health Organization Urges States to Include Oral Health Providers Among First Wave of Vaccine Recipients
Dentists, Dental Hygienists, and Dental Assistants are Essential Health Personnel That Play Vital Role in Distributing Coronavirus Vaccine
The DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement is urging state leaders to ensure that oral health providers are among the first wave of coronavirus vaccine recipients following a vote yesterday by a committee of medical and public health experts advising the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Yesterday’s vote by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that health care workers — including dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants — and long-term care facility staff and residents be the first to receive vaccinations once approved by the Federal Drug Administration. The vote is a signal to state officials who are developing vaccine distribution plans in advance of official CDC guidance.
The following is a statement from Dr. Myechia Minter-Jordan, President and CEO for the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement, in support of the recommendations adopted yesterday by the CDC’s ACIP.
“This recommendation reaffirms what we already know — oral health is essential health care for all. We expect the CDC to approve the recommendation and urge states to adopt this guidance and include dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants in the first wave of vaccine recipients.
Many dental professionals — particularly those in public health settings like Federally-Qualified Health Centers — stand ready to administer COVID-19 vaccines and should be included in state distribution strategies.”
In the early days of the pandemic, oral health care providers were in the highest risk category for contracting COVID-19 in the workplace. As a result, dental practices across the country were asked to shut down earlier this year, leaving millions of Americans without access to critical health care services. But the dental community came together to develop responsive safety standards and new infection control protocols that allowed dental care settings to reopen and once again provide vital oral health care.
Oral health care is essential to overall health and the pandemic has illustrated that in a very real way. The DentaQuest Partnership recently released a report that found a link between better preventive oral health and a reduced risk of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). VAP is a leading cause of death among critically ill patients and has posed a serious problem for those afflicted with COVID-19 who require mechanical ventilation.
Once again, the oral health community is stepping up and stands ready to assist in the distribution and administration of coronavirus vaccines to the public once available.
The DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement is a nonprofit organization working to transform the broken health care system and enable better health through oral health. Through strategic grantmaking, research and care improvement initiatives, we drive meaningful change at the local, state and national levels. The DentaQuest Partnership is affiliated with DentaQuest, a leading U.S. oral health enterprise with a mission to improve the oral health of all. Find out more at www.dentaquestpartnership.org.