It’s time for UK dentists to put down their drills and pick up syringes to back the COVID-19 vaccination effort in earnest.
That’s the opinion of one of the UK’s leading clinicians, who is calling for ‘an army’ of dental professionals to volunteer to help the national COVID-19 vaccination effort.
Implant dentist, Professor Eddie Scher, believes that dental professionals have a moral duty to support the rollout of the vaccines.
Speaking to Dentistry Online, he said: ‘As dentists, we have to ask ourselves how we can help the country. Providing our routine care is essential – but giving up just one day a week from our practices could transform the COVID-19 vaccination effort.
‘There are more than 66 million people in this country. Vaccinating even a small proportion is a mammoth task. But if just a few thousand extra dental professionals joined the COVID-19 vaccination programme as volunteers, think what a difference that could make.
‘What’s more, it could free up frontline staff to deliver care where it is even more needed. This crisis is getting deeper by the day. If the dental profession can take some of the weight off the front line, we have to try.’
COVID-19 vaccination support ‘vital’
Professor Scher – a past president of the Association of Dental Implantology – argues that the rising case rates make the need for support ‘vital’.
He added: ‘The sooner we act, the sooner we can start. The situation is already beyond urgent but if enough of us volunteer, we can make a difference. I know that the vaccination stations are still searching for “sustainable models” to meet demand. Our help is vital.’
Professor Scher was also quick to explain that the process of certification was not onerous in the long run.
He continued: ‘I appreciate that there is some additional training to do, which might surprise some. But I would urge colleagues to look past the process of certification.
‘The modules required are not onerous. Taken all together, they might need a few hours to complete. But compared to the education we’ve already committed to, it’s not a big step.
All dental professionals looking to volunteer to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations will need to be certified to do so. However, their status as registered healthcare providers should make that process easier.
Dentists with an NHS email address can reach out to their local commissioning group but training is also available from the e-learning for healthcare portal.
The learning – for the North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups – primarily consists of a core module on COVID-19 itself. This is followed by sessions on the Pfizer (COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 Pfizer-Biontech) and Astra Zeneca (Oxford) vaccines. Each module features a multiple-choice assessment on the material, which requires a mark of 80% or greater to pass.
Dentistry Online understands that modules (and assessments) on anaphylaxis and the legal aspects of immunisation are also required. Additional sessions on new COVID-19 vaccines will be added as more are approved for use in the UK.
‘Make a difference’
Professor Scher appealed to dentists’ better nature adding: ‘We’re in dentistry because we care about people. We want to help get patients out of pain; to make their lives better. If we have a chance to do that – even outside of dental practice, I think many of us would want to take it.
‘I know that as business owners and clinicians, our time is valuable. But people’s lives are immeasurably more important.
‘This pandemic has taken our freedoms and our loved ones away from us. We can make a direct difference to that by joining the COVID-19 vaccination effort. It’s time to put our drills down – by choice this time – and pick up tools that can dig us all out of this mess.’
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