Written by David Burger
Saying that he is proud that the United States is embarking on one of the biggest vaccination campaigns in its history, ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., received a COVID-19 vaccination Dec. 18 at a Tucson, Arizona, hospital where he regularly performs oral surgery.
“Within the past week, health care professionals around the country have rolled up their sleeves to receive the highly anticipated COVID-19 vaccine,” wrote Dr. Klemmedson in an online letter to both ADA members and nonmembers the same day he was vaccinated. “I was fortunate to be one of them.”
Dr. Klemmedson said that the experience itself was no different from other shots he’s received before.
“However, the emotional relief of being immunized against the novel coronavirus is second to none,” the ADA president said. “It’s a step toward normalcy, a step toward recovering public health, and a shot at slowing the global pandemic with hopes of ending it for good.”
As the vaccine rollout continues, the ADA is working for its patients and profession on three fronts, Dr. Klemmedson said in the letter:
• Helping dentists get vaccinated.
• Helping dentists navigate being able to administer the vaccine.
• Helping dentists talk to their patients about getting vaccinated too.
The general public will likely have access to a vaccine in the spring of 2021, Dr. Klemmedson said, but cautioned that people should not be complacent.
“We’re not out of the woods yet,” he wrote. “The United States is seeing a staggering resurgence of COVID-19 cases and deaths — what health officials are calling ‘a surge within a surge’ as infection rates continue to spike during the holiday season. We must continue wearing our masks and washing our hands frequently, and also maintaining enhanced infection control protocols in our offices. Although gathering with loved ones makes the holidays merry and bright, social distancing also remains critical.”
The ADA has advocated for dentists and dental team members to be prioritized within the first phase of vaccinations, Dr. Klemmedson emphasized, saying that final authority rests with the individual states to prioritize populations to be offered the vaccine.
“When need is great and supplies are limited, public health officials often face tough decisions when determining an equitable distribution of resources,” said Dr. Klemmedson. “Some states are prioritizing dentists in Phase 1A. In other states, dentists may be prioritized in Phase 1B or within different phases, tiers, and subgroups. Bear in mind, it may be weeks or longer before you are able to be vaccinated. Be sure to consult with your state society for further details.”
He encouraged dentists and their teams to visit the ADA’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Map, which is designed to help dentists determine their prioritization to be vaccinated in their state. The map also provides information about whether dentists can administer COVID-19 vaccinations in their state. The map will be updated as new information becomes available.
“Dentists are essential health care providers whose leadership, counsel, and example will go a long way in building vaccine confidence in our nation,” Dr. Klemmedson said. “Let’s do our part to move public health forward. Get vaccinated and encourage your patients to do the same so this time next year, we can gather once again.”
Continue to visit ADA.org/virus for the most current information and resources on these topics and more. Also, check out the ADA’s new COVID-19 vaccination fact sheet, which provides the current status of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. along with information about vaccine safety and efficacy. The fact sheet will be updated regularly.