NHS England confirmed unvaccinated dental staff need to have had their first dose by the end of winter to meet the April deadline.
Last month the government announced that all healthcare staff who have direct patient contact will have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by April.
Latest figures reveal that around 90% of NHS staff in England have had two doses of the vaccine. But in some trusts this figure sits as low as 78%.
Dentists, their team members and other healthcare staff have to receive their first dose by 3 February 2022. If missed, they will fail to get their second dose by the 1 April deadline.
From 11 November, vaccination against COVID-19 was made a condition for care home staff. It applies to those who work in care homes for adults across England, excluding those with a medical exemption.
But the measure will not apply to all healthcare staff until April. This is due to fears it could lead to a shortfall in staff over the winter.
Ethical concerns with mandatory vaccine
Neel Kothari is a principal dentist based in Cambridgeshire. Although vaccinated himself, he fears the move will lead to a shortfall in care.
‘The decision to mandate vaccinations for all patient facing roles in CQC registered organisations is likely to further jeopardise the already precarious recruitment crisis in dentistry,’ he told Dentistry.
‘This ‘cover all’ approach fails to recognise the differences in risk levels between dental practices and busy NHS hospitals. As well raises a number of ethical concerns surrounding vaccination. For consent to be valid it must pass a number of tests, one of them being that it must be entered into voluntarily.
‘This is clearly not the case if ones livelihood is threatened. We are already hearing of people handing in their notices as they are opting out of vaccination.’
He added: ‘Whilst I am fully vaccinated myself, I worry that forcing this issue on an already largely compliant group of individuals has a significant risk of backfiring and could lead to countless health related deaths through a lack of available care.
‘These are the same people we told that the PPE they were wearing was safe when no vaccine was available and the same people we clapped for during the first lockdown.
‘This is a shameful way to treat our heroes.’
Follow Dentistry.co.uk on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.