I’ve been a dentist for 31 years. When a call came out from the province allowing dentists to be vaccinators, as president of the Manitoba Dental Association, I wanted to set an example, so I signed up. I went for training and then started working shifts as a vaccinator at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg. I’m proud of the fact that when we sent out an email with the news to our members, about half of them volunteered to be vaccinators. We also have retired dentists or semi-retired dentists who are helping at the clinics in Winnipeg, Morden and Selkirk.
Every time I’ve gone on shift as a vaccinator I always see a few dentists there. Some of us work all day at our own dental clinic, then take on vaccination shifts in the evenings and on weekends. While it does make for long days I’m very proud of the community spirit that the dental community has shown in helping with vaccinations.
You might wonder why are dentists helping out with vaccinating? As dentists, we’re very comfortable with dealing with patients, giving injections and monitoring their reactions. And we have a lot of training in public health.
Also, COVID is a respiratory disease, which is of course very much related to matters of dental health. Preventing the transmission of COVID is a major concern to dentists. Not only do we not want to get it ourselves, we don’t want to pass it on to our patients or our families. We’ve certainly seen quite a bit of change in dental offices, with a lot of new policies and procedures and PPE. I’m not aware of any cases of COVID transmission from dentist to patient, or patient to dentist, in Canada. Hopefully that means our protocols are up to date and thorough. Dentists are front-line workers, and we’re working in a very personal space—I joke that it’s tough to do dentistry from across the room!
I would tell people who are nervous about getting vaccinated that the international system of science is recommending the vaccines, and that the vaccines have been tested and confirmed to be safe. But everybody has the right to their own opinion and to make their own choices. I’ve had this conversation with some friends and family. While it can be a difficult topic, it is important to talk about. You don’t want to be pushy, but it is important that people get the facts so they can make a truly informed decision.
As a vaccinator, I’ve been vaccinated. It was almost painless. I felt a little tired and sore, but not very much. For me, I barely noticed the side effects. Most importantly though, I know I’ve done what I can to help slow this pandemic and I recommend everyone who can to get vaccinated.