Dentists, pharmacists ready to start vaccinating thousands in B.C.

Dentists, pharmacists ready to start vaccinating thousands in B.C.
WatchFrom dentists to pharmacists, thousands ready to start vaccinating as B.C.'s top doctor recruits medical professionals in vaccination program.

As Roy Kingerlee settles in for his appointment to replace a crown, Dr. Ross Crapo prepares an anesthetic in his dentists’ office.

“Open as wide as you can,” Dr. Crapo said.

He routinely uses syringes as part of his practice, and he’s keen to be part of B.C.’s mass vaccination program.

“Our dental clinics are mini hospitals,” Dr. Crapo said. “The College and Association have been very, very good about keeping us very very avant-garde as far as sterilization procedures and all kinds of ways of making sure that patients is protected.”

On Tuesday, B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, issued an order allowing dentists and other medical professionals to administer COVID-19 vaccines as part of the province’s mass vaccination program.

“This means we’ve expanded our pool of immunizers and people who can provide services,” Dr. Henry said at Monday’s COVID-19 briefing. “To include dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians, paramedics, retired nurses, and a number of other professions.”

There are 3,800 dentists, 4,700 pharmacists, and 300 midwives in B.C., adding up to an army of vaccinators.

Crapo called Henry’s order to recruit dentists and other medical professionals into the province’s vaccination program, a smart move.

“I think it’s a great idea. I’ve thought about this for several months. We’re used to doing injections, we’re quite comfortable with this,” he said.

Vancouver Island pharmacist Lindsay Dixon agrees.

“I think this is excellent news we really do need an all-hands-on-deck approach to this,” Dixon said. “And so, I think that you know, the more people, the better that we can have trained and ready.”

This past flu season, B.C. pharmacists gave more than 1 million flu shots, while the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program aims at double-dosing as many as 5.5 million residents.

Dixon said once the vaccines start arriving in larger quantities, she and other pharmacists are expected to be called into action.

“This is going to be an unprecedented vaccine campaign,” she said.

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READ MORE: Over 450 new cases of COVID-19 reported in B.C., 35 in Island Health

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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