Medical professionals needed to administer COVID-19 shots

OTTAWA — As Canada acquires more COVID-19 vaccines, the rush to get everyone vaccinated seems to be only weeks away.

That means a high priority is being placed on having the vaccine administered in as many locations as possible. Provinces are starting to expand the number of health professionals able to administer the vaccine.

“I think that it’s very straight forward for dentists to do it,” says dental surgeon Dr. Ramzi Hindieh. “I still see older patients, and I guarantee you pretty much all of them have not gotten their vaccine yet. That’s an easy way to just speed up the process of the high-risk groups.” 

Canadian Dental Association deputy CEO Aaron Burry says dentists are ready to step up when they are called on.

“Dentist are highly trained. They are very, very excited I think about the opportunity. And depending on the province and the area, they are available and interested in doing it,” says Burry.

Still there’s no word on whether dentists will be called to administer the COVID-19 vaccine on the frontlines, in their own offices or working out of the mass vaccination sites.

Friday’s federal announcement around recruitment to administer the vaccine isn’t yet clear. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is just hoping to recruit as many health care professionals as possible.

“If you’re a dentist, a paramedic, a midwife, a pharmacy technician or a retired nurse, we need your help,” said Trudeau.

The role of pharmacies and pharmacists is a bit more straight forward.

Ontario Pharmacists Association CEO Justin Bates says members have been preparing. They hope to start COVID-19 vaccinations in March.

“We’re ready. We have the infrastructure, we have the systems, we do this already today,” says Bates. “We’re calculating we can do 46 vaccinations per day, per store. So if we have the same number of stores as were participating in the flu program, it’s about a million we can do a week. So we think that’s very significant in terms of adding capacity.” 

So with pharmacists, dentists and other health-related professionals gearing up, there is a chance vaccinating Canadians could end up moving quicker than critics first thought.

“You take the high-risk group, medical, dental professionals. You vaccinate them, you make them safe,” says Hindieh. “Then you target their patients. That’s a very nice way to speed up the process.”

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