Dentists await COVID-19 vaccinations

Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 11:52 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Dentists in Douglas County are wondering why there’s a hold-up for their coronavirus vaccines.

The Douglas County Health Department blames vaccine supply and other unforeseen challenges before dentists can get their doses.

“Whoever walks through [my office] door potentially could have COVID,” Dr. Kenny Farivari said.

Monday marks another night home from work with no follow-up from the Douglas County Health Department. Dr. Farivari says the health department surveyed how many of his coworkers wanted to take the vaccine. He says his practice hasn’t heard back since, and his colleagues are eager for an answer. Dr. Farivari says he sees up to 30 patients a day.

Dentists are Tier 3 of phase 1-A, according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. But after waiting two weeks for an update on where their doses are, this dentist is ready for his inoculation.

“It’s a little frustrating to see other professions getting access before us, but we’re not getting any information,” Dr. Farivari said.

A spokesperson for the Douglas County Health Department tells 6 News its biggest problem at hand is the supply of the vaccine. The department is also still tending to other healthcare professions ahead of dentists on the state’s allocation list.

The spokesperson said where the vaccine’s administered is another challenge. Just before Christmas, Omaha firefighters received their doses at their union hall.

When it comes to dentists, the county health department says it’s difficult to find venues with enough space for social distancing. Inoculated people need to be monitored for 15 minutes in case they have any reactions to treatment.

“If we got a timeframe like, you know—two weeks, a week, whatever—that would be fine,” Dr. Farivari said.

Aside from doctors and nurses, this dentist is hard-pressed to find another front-line profession face-to-face with asymptomatic patients.

“We’re sitting 12 inches away from an open mouth, water, air—everything getting sprayed at us,” Dr. Farivari said. “And we have a mask and face-shield. That’s it.”

He and his colleagues can only wait as the local health department works on other patient-facing workers. Dr. Farivari will return to work tomorrow.

The health department spokesperson says it’s considered drive-thru clinics, but they’ve had trouble finding a space with enough room to monitor those patients post-post-inoculation.

The department will notify dentists when they can get the vaccine.

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