Dentists, hygienists hope to help Illinois with COVID-19 vaccinations

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois State Dental Society hopes the Pritzker administration will give them the opportunity to help administer COVID-19 vaccines. Members know the state will need all hands on deck when vaccines become widely available.

Illinois dentists already have the ability to provide vaccinations under state law. However, they must go through specific training created for pandemics. ISDS members say “Just In Time” training addresses injection techniques, vaccine dosage, and evaluation of reactions to medication. Roughly 10,000 dentists and about 8,000 dental hygienists work in Illinois, so ISDS feels the state should include them in mass vaccination teams.

“We’re here to help, but we need your help getting this resolved,” said Government Relations Director Dave Marsh. “They’re already reaching out to dentists and say ‘We would like to get you to volunteer.’ We’re telling them we can’t volunteer unless we have the authority to do this. So, help us get that done.”

Marsh explained Gov. JB Pritzker’s recent emergency proclamation took the current state law allowing dentists to provide flu vaccines in their office and altered it by including COVID-19 vaccines. Still, Marsh says that process would be too time-consuming to get people into dental offices for vaccinations. ISDS also feels four hours of training is unnecessary with the mass vaccination period coming.

“We want to do it. We’re prepared to do it,” Marsh added. “But, there’s a big barrier right now that needs to be addressed.”

Planning ahead

The group sent language for an updated emergency proclamation to the governor’s office and the Department of Public Health. They also filed the language as an amendment to a bill previously introduced by Sen. Rachel Crowe (D-Alton). Senate Bill 2965 never moved out of committee as legislative leaders cut the spring session short due to COVID-19 concerns. ISDS members hope lawmakers can present that plan during the “lame duck” session set to start on January 8.

On December 8, Dr. Ngozi Ezike mentioned her department would look into having dentists and medical students helping with vaccinations.

“We’re going to get all the resources we need, all the help that we need so that we can expedite this process and safely getting people who are appropriately trained to put this vaccine in people’s arms so that we can get to the end of this pandemic journey,” Ezike said.

via WSIL

December 30, 2020 at 07:24PM

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