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Ontario dental association calls for early access to COVID-19 vaccine for dentists, staff

In this Wednesday, May 27, 2020 photo, dentist Dr. Kathleen Saturay wears additional protective equipment, including a face shield and disposable mask over a respirator mask, as she exams a patient in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Ontario Dental Association says it wants the provincial government to include dentists and dental staff in the first rounds of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

“Dentists have been on the frontlines throughout the pandemic by keeping people with dental problems out of emergency rooms,” the ODA said.

The dental group said due to the nature of their work, dentists are at direct risk of contracting the coronavirus and should be on the priority list of health-care professionals to be vaccinated early.

The association said it sent a letter to the province’s health minister on Dec. 4, 2020 requesting they be part of early vaccinations.

Read more: Coronavirus — Ontario dental hygienists raise health concerns about safety standards

“The ODA understands the immense stress the province is under as they navigate through this pandemic but dentists are a key part of the healthcare system and provide specialty care that improves the health and well-being of millions of Ontarians every year,” said ODA president Dr. Lesli Hapak. “We need early access to the COVID-19 vaccine.”

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The Ontario government has released its COVID-19 vaccination program, which includes vaccinating Ontarians in three phases.

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Phase 1 includes front-line health-care workers, First Nations and the most vulnerable populations, such as those in long-term care. The province is expecting to have administered roughly two million doses by the end of March.

Phase 2 is an extension of the first phase when more vaccine doses become available. Phase 3 is when every Ontarian who wants to be immunized can receive a vaccine.

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