As multiple pharmaceutical companies announce the effectiveness of their respective COVID-19 vaccines and distribution appears imminent, the ADA is asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to include dentists among those at the top of the list for vaccination.
The CDC has said that supplies of these vaccines may be limited and that early “vaccination efforts will likely focus on those critical to the response, providing direct care, and maintaining societal function,” but it did not include dental professionals in its framework to help states “plan and operationalize a vaccination response to COVID-19.”
In their letter to the CDC, ADA president Daniel J. Klemmedson, DDS, MD, and executive director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, DMD, MPH, noted that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommended that dentists and their teams be included in the first phase of any vaccine’s administration since dentistry is essential healthcare.
“There is nothing routine about dental care. Beyond treating immediate pain, dentists evaluate, diagnose, prevent, and treat diseases that can be life-changing or even life-threatening,” the letter said.
“For example, early detection of oral cancers and serious infections can lead to early treatment. Delaying treatment for months, weeks, or even days can make the difference between dying early, having a life-changing abnormality, and living a normal, healthy life,” they said.
Klemmedson and O’Loughlin also said that dental care is essential in managing chronic diseases like diabetes. Dentists and their teams can increase the nation’s medical surge capacity as well, the letter added, as dentists are trained healthcare professionals who can even be called upon to test for the virus and administer the vaccine.
“It is worth noting that every year more than 27 million people visit a dentist, but not a physician,” the letter said. “Every one of these encounters is an opportunity to test and vaccinate these individuals for COVID-19.”