'Well prepared and willing': Alberta dentists step up to help administer COVID-19 vaccines
Dentists will be able to help out in the COVID-19 vaccination effort when it comes time for the general public to get their shots. (File)
CALGARY -- Now that pharmacists have been given the ability to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to Albertans, another group of medical professionals say they are ready to help in the effort too.
The Alberta Dental Association and College says it is working with the government to determine how community dental offices can help when vaccines are more readily available in the province.
It says "dentists are experts in infection control" and have the skills necessary to immunize Albertans quickly and efficiently.
"We're well trained, well educated and we give injections all the time," said Dr. Bruce Yaholnitsky, president of the Alberta Dental Association and College in an interview with CTV News.
"It is part of our scope of practice."
On Wednesday, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced the commencement of the vaccination of Albertans 75 years old and older at more than 100 community pharmacies in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer.
The limited quantities of the vaccine means only select pharmacies will be included during this phase of vaccination, but Shandro said all Albertans born in 1946 or earlier can book appointments.
"I want to reassure those eligible Albertans (who are) not in or near one of these centers that they will still be able to receive their doses in the same time frame close to home."
Once the vaccine is available in a large quantity in Alberta, dentists say they are ready, willing and able to administer it.
"We see ourselves working in health clinics, with other health-care workers just trying to put people through," Yaholnitsky said.
The association has been in talks with the provincial government about how that would work since about July, he says.
"We've suggested that we again have the skill set and the knowledge that we should be part of the rollout of these vaccines," he says. "When we need to get as many needles in as many arms as quickly as possible, we would definitely be part of that."
Yaholnitsky says dentists would be asked to volunteer to administer the vaccine when the time comes.