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UK dental world reacts to COVID-19 vaccine approval

By Brendan Day, Dental Tribune International
December 02, 2020

LONDON, UK: The UK has become the first country in the world to approve a clinically tested COVID-19 vaccine after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use. The vaccine is set to be rolled out from next week onwards, and elderly people and NHS staff are to be prioritised—although details on how dental professionals, for example, fit into this plan are yet to be finalised.

The UK government announced that it has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, which has been shown to be 95% effective in Phase III clinical trials. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said that the government’s decision “follows months of rigorous clinical trials and a thorough analysis of the data by experts at the MHRA who have concluded that the vaccine has met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness”.

The spokesperson added: “The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation will shortly publish its final advice for the priority groups to receive the vaccine, including care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable. The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.”

“We would hope that [dental teams] are classified for early receipt of the vaccine along with other essential health care workers”
— Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the OHF

Dr Eddie Crouch, chair of the British Dental Association (BDA), told Dental Tribune International that while "a rapid rollout of COVID-19 vaccines could be a gamechanger", the BDA was waiting for further clarification regarding the exact position of dentists in this rollout.

“Government advisors have recommended that all health professionals should be near the front of the queue,” he said. "However, we have been concerned that dentists—in both NHS and private settings—will not be given priority. We’ve seen this in England, where NHS contractors have been excluded from the free flu vaccination programme.”

"Given volunteers are being sought from across the workforce to deliver the vaccine, we need to avoid a surreal situation where dentists administering the vaccine are likely to be ineligible to receive it. Based on early contact with officials we are increasingly confident dentists are now in the mix for vaccines, alongside fellow primary care providers,” Crouch added.

Dr Nigel Carter, OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, commented: “Approval of vaccines is obviously extremely good news with the potential of allowing life to come back to normal.  It is not yet clear where dental care teams will fall in the hierarchy of vaccine delivery.  As one of the professions most hit by the early stages of the pandemic and struggling to operate normally, we would hope that they are classified for early receipt of the vaccine along with other essential health care workers.”

8 Comments

  • Lisa jelley says:

    I feel that dental care professionals dentists nurses etc should be eligible for the vaccine given we work closely to the respiratory tract. The fact that patients can be asymptomatic with the virus who knows how many patients are coming through our surgery with the virus without knowing. I feel that dental professionals are forgotten.

  • Amanda Lightstone says:

    I am 64 and work as a dental nurse. Dental nurses were classed as one of the most dangerous professions in this pandemic. I am directly in contact with patients’ faces and have to deal with all the instruments afterwards. Shouldn’t I be vaccinated?!!

  • Eileen Greenwood says:

    I’m a Dental patient. A member of the public. I strongly feel that Dentists and DentalNurses and all dental staff should be given priority vaccination.
    It seems to me that the the dental profession isn’t highlighted enough in government view point to be a priority group.
    Which is ridiculous of course. Open mouths and throats of patients are a truly officially high risk.
    But the government and the public and media seem to blind about the dangers to dental staff.

  • Satish Bedi says:

    Most dentists are working with very uncomfortable masks on for nearly 7-8 hours. They work very close to patients breathing not far from dentists. Dentists and dental nurses should be getting vaccines ASAP.

  • Vicky says:

    I am a dental nurse and have a family of 2 teens to come home to every day concerned if I am going to catch covid at work. I wear full ppe and respirator every day and am exhausted. I work in a room where people cough and choke on a daily basis. Am I not high risk enough to be high priority for a vaccine rather than an 80 year old who doesn’t leave home?

  • Marjorie Prince says:

    I feel strongly that all dental professionals should be given priority for COVID 19 vaccinations. They are in close contact with their patients and at great risk. They should all be treated in line with other frontline workers.

  • Liz says:

    I found out yesterday that our Gp receptionists have been given vaccines already when it appears that 90% of their contact with patients is via phone, whilst it is still being debated if Dental staff should even be a priority, . Why are Dentists and nurses not being recognised as being front line and why aren’t private Dentists recognised as equal risk and importance as NHS. As others have said they are front line staff and at high risk, they do seem to be the forgotten profession. Some of our staff are shielding family yet put themselves and their family at risk. Yes they have PPE but 1/3 of those infected are asymptomatic, is PPE alone enough to protect them? we can and should be doing more.

  • Paula says:

    Can I got to the dentist a day after having covid vaccine

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