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Alberta dentists want to be included the next phase of vaccination

Last Updated Feb 25, 2021 at 8:27 pm MDT

(CREDIT: iStock user LukaTDB)

EDMONTON – As Albertans 75 and older line up, virtually, to get their first COVID-19 vaccine, there’s also good news for family doctors as the health minister confirmed in a tweet physicians and their staff they will be in phase two of the vaccine roll out.

But this brings questions for another medical profession still waiting to be eligible for the shot: dentists and their teams, who spend their day in our mouths, unable to physical distance.

WATCH: CityNews’ Carly Robinson reports on dentists in Alberta asking the government to include them in the next wave of the vaccine roll out.

“We work in the highest-risk area of the body. We’re producing aerosols on a regular basis,” said Dr. Bruce Yaholnitsky, president of the Alberta Dental Association and College

Yaholnitsky says every dentist he talks to in the United States has already gotten two doses of the vaccine, as American health authorities prioritized dental teams in the first phase of the roll out, considering the close contact with patients as part of the front line.

But in Canada, associations are pleading with provinces to at least vaccinate them at the same time as family doctors.

“Should we be ahead of family physicians? Most definitely. They’re doing tele-medicine. We’re seeing people literally 12 inches away.”

Alberta Health in a statement to CityNews says they recognize dentists, dental hygienists and many other health care workers would benefit from receiving the vaccine.

But the statement goes on to say authorities are still working to determine who will be included in the vaccination group 2-C along with family doctors.

But Yaholnitsky says the delay may be because COVID-19 precautions in dental offices are working so well, there has been no transmission of the virus in an oral health setting in all of North America.

“Part of the problem is we have been too successful, but you have to look at where we are working,” said Yaholnitsky

He also wants the government to follow provinces like B.C. and Manitoba and have dentists administer vaccines once we get supply.

“Everybody is pushing to the front of the line. I really want to make this clear: there are vulnerable populations that need to be done first, and the age group going on that’s the right factor. But there are other groups moving up that their risk factors aren’t as high as dentists are.”

Currently, Alberta is still in Phase 1 of vaccination, with Phase 2 starting in April.

In that phase, which has four sections, will see Albertans over 65, those with high-risk health conditions, and more health care workers.

Exactly which health care workers will be included in that, however, is still to be determined.