Dental hygienists could be deployed to give Albertans COVID-19 vaccine jab
Province looks to other regulated health practitioners expand capacity to vaccinate
Dental hygienists and other regulated health practitioners may be the province's answer to expanding its capacity to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.
The College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta says it's seeking a ministerial exemption for some hygienists to help administer the COVID-19 vaccine.
CEO Amie Dowell said they're only seeking the exemption for hygienists who are trained to administer local anesthetic.
"We've asked a couple of times for that consideration," she said.
"We've just been told that they're, understandably, extremely busy and that working through their vaccination plans for the province and will be back in touch with us when they have a chance to consider our request."
Dowell says enlisting qualified hygienists would bolster the province's inoculation program.
"When we're looking at plans for vaccinating the general public, we're looking at ways to help support in any way that we can," she said. "That includes administering in community health services such as dental clinics and dental hygiene practices."
Alissa Engen is one dental hygienist who would be eligible to administer vaccines under this proposed exemption.
"We're all trying to help out in any way we can. Those who are able, I think are very willing," she said.
In an emailed statement, the province said work is underway to keep expanding Alberta's capacity to distribute the vaccine.
"Right now, we are exploring ways to expand capacity using additional regulated health practitioners and will update Albertans as this work unfolds," it said.
Speaking at a COVID-19 update on Monday, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said there are at least 69 vaccine clinics set up and working across the province.
"We'll add more as more of the vaccine becomes available to us through the federal government," he said. "AHS is also working to make sure that these and future sites will be adequately staffed by actively hiring vaccinators."