Clean teeth and a COVID-19 shot

Dentists looking to get some of the vaccination action

Clean teeth and a COVID-19 shot

BOSTON — There’s little doubt they can handle hypodermic needles. But with a little training, could dentists help supply the manpower needed to vaccinate the hundreds of millions of Americans who will need to be immunized against COVID-19 in the coming months?

A Saugus dentist thinks so. Dr. Abe Abdul of Lux Dental is circulating a petition calling on Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker to include dentists on the list of healthcare workers allowed to give COVID-19 shots once they become available.

“Dentists are in close contact with the general population,” the petition, found on change.org, reads. “Not only do dentists see patients twice a year, but they are also one of the most trusted and most accessible of all health professionals.”

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They are also among the most well-educated. A typical dental school curriculum leans heavily on anatomy and physiology, plus pharmacology, the study of drugs.

“An effective COVID response requires that we be nimble,” the petition continues.

“With a little extra training, I feel more than confident we could give the COVID vaccine,” said Dr. Christopher Pellegrino, a dentist with Hingham Dental Associates. “Usually patients are local to their dental office. It’s easy to get to, it’s convenient. It’s a very safe environment right now with all the PPE standards we’ve added.”

Dr. Pellegrino also pointed out that, with the earliest vaccine approvals likely requiring two doses, dental offices are ideally suited to provide that, as patients are used to coming back for routine appointments.

To be sure, an all-hands-on-deck effort may be needed for the final battle against COVID-19. That may be why the American Dental Association passed a resolution in October endorsing the idea of dentists administering COVID-19 vaccinations.

Locally, the Massachusetts Dental Society says it is aware of Dr. Abdul’s petition and that its COVID-19 Resurgence Task Force is studying the issue and plans to make a formal statement about it later this month.

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