Letter to the Editor: Take a Shot

by Dr. P. Markle, Toronto

It would seem that the roll-out of vaccine to combat COVID-19 in Ontario and indeed Canada is lagging behind other jurisdictions. Now that the vaccines are becoming more available, the next step is how to deliver them quickly and safely to the population. One of the bottlenecks is the availability of properly trained professionals to provide the injections.

In my opinion, dentists are ideally suited to provide this service. We are trained to provide injections in the much more complex oral environment and routinely utilize injections on multiple cases every day. Surely we can provide this crucial service to the general population.

In a recent issue of Oral Health there is an article on IM injections of glycopyrrolate to reduce salivary flow including a visual review of IM injection technique. Surely if we can do this, the vaccine is not a problem.

There is a problem with doing efficient mass inoculations in most dental offices due to concerns regarding cleaning and disinfection of operatories in between patients. But only consider if individual dentists were allowed to volunteer at the mass sites being set up by the local Boards of Health in Ontario. The value to the public is immense.

There are, according to the data available, 11,979 licensed dentists in Ontario. Assuming only 900 were available, due to health or other issues, to provide this service and assuming that in a mass vaccine inoculation setting that each dentist would be able to provide one injection every 6 minutes. If these 900 dentists provided only two days out of office to the program for a 6-hour day with a 1 hour break, they could provide approximately 900,000 patients with the vaccine.

Now, I stand ready to be corrected on my math, but just think of the value we could provide to our communities. Simultaneously we could raise our image as caring healthcare professionals. I would hope that we can get involved quickly to bring this pandemic to an end and help us all to get back to normal, sooner rather than later.

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