Saskatchewan dentists eagerly await vaccinations despite delivery delays

Saskatchewan dentists will likely be waiting until May to receive their COVID vaccinations.

Expected vaccination dates pushed back to May from April, dean of dentistry says

Saskatchewan dental practitioners ramped up infection control measures to prevent COVID transmission. (Michel Euler/The Associated Press file photo)

Recent delays in vaccine shipments to Canada from European suppliers means dentists, hygienists and office staff will likely be waiting until at least May to get their shots, according to Doug Brothwell, dean of dentistry at the University of Saskatchewan. 

"The same as everyone else, I'd really like to see the vaccine get out more quickly," Brothwell said.

Saskatchewan dentists and their staff were recently told to expect their COVID vaccine in early April. Dentists were scheduled for phase two of the vaccine rollouts, along with other health-care workers including chiropractors and physiotherapists, Brothwell said.

The close nature of dental work coupled with aerosolised virus from dental procedures puts dental practitioners at higher risk than the general public, Brothwell said. 

"We work with saliva and saliva is one of those bodily fluids that we know is involved in the transmission of the coronavirus." 

Dental offices have increased PPE and cleaning procedures — which have prevented a COVID outbreak at any Canadian dental office, Brothwell said. 

However, those extra layers of infection control take a toll on dentists and practitioners working daily with patients.

"The amount of extra time that every procedure takes, the additional costs related to all of the PPE and the protocols and also the stress and everything that goes with that has made dentistry much more difficult to practice," he said.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said that in light of drastic reductions in vaccine deliveries to Canada, they are reviewing their vaccination expansion plans.