Dental professionals and their teams prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine

07 January 2021
3 min read

The CDO for England, Sara Hurley, and Eric Rooney and Jason Wong, the deputy CDOs, have released an NHS dentistry and oral health update regarding Covid-19 vaccinations for dental professionals and their teams.

The statement reads:

Dear colleague,

We are delighted to announce that alongside other health and care staff, dental professionals and their teams are now being prioritised for a Covid-19 vaccine. 

This means that dental teams supporting the NHS, those working in private or mixed practices will all be entitled to a vaccine, this includes specialist practices and clinical dental technicians registered with the CQC.

Dental professionals who work for a NHS trust will fall within the vaccination programme co-ordinated through their trust.​ Locum clinical staff employed by the practice and non-clinical ancillary staff who may have social contact with patients but are not directly involved in patient care (e.g. receptionists and cleaners) are also included. 

The coronavirus vaccination programme, the largest in the health service’s history, is off to a strong start having already vaccinated more people than anywhere else in Europe, and it is expanding geographically each week as vaccine supplies increase.

As frontline health professionals, it is important that when you are called to be vaccinated you attend. Private practices are advised to ensure their contact details with the CQC are up to date as a matter of urgency. 

We have the PPE, we have access to testing, we are sharing the message loud and clear that practices are open and now we have access to the vaccine, too. Dentistry is an essential medical service, not an optional extra. Patients need to and deserve to see their dental teams and the vaccine roll out is another important next step in the fight against Covid-19 and restoring NHS dentistry.

More widely, commissioners are able to issue those who work in NHS dental practices with documentation that prove critical worker status.

We are also very proud of Satyesh Parmar, Asha Thomson and Heather Pope who were honoured by the Queen in the New Year's Honours List. As I am sure you will agree, they are three shining examples of how our profession improves lives. 

Sara, Eric and Jason

The update also featured further details:

How you will receive the Covid-19 vaccine if you work in NHS primary care dentistry
The NHS will contact you, you do not need to contact the NHS, such as a GP surgery. First, the NHS will contact the email address your practice is registered with the NHS on to understand the number of people eligible for the vaccine. Once we know the demand, hospitals, and in some cases local vaccination centres, will then begin contacting you to come forward for the vaccine. This vaccine will in all likelihood be administered at your local hospital.

How you will receive the Covid-19 vaccine if you work in private dentistry
The NHS request providers update their contact records with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as a matter of urgency.

This is because if you work in private sector dentistry and the practice you work in or you personally do not have an NHS contract, then the NHS does not hold any contact details for you. This means we need to get hold of your contact details, or that of your practice, from the regulator the CQC. It is therefore essential that private practice owners ensure the contact details for their practice with the CQC are up to date, especially with an up to date email address. The NHS can then begin the process of vaccinating staff.

If you are a locum clinical staff not currently clinically active or between employment, we will update you as soon as possible.

Proving you are a critical worker when part of an NHS dental team
Dental professionals and their teams are defined by the government as critical workers. The government website says, "This includes, but is not limited to, doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers". Frontline health staff includes dental professionals and their teams.

If you need further evidence of this, email your NHS commissioner who can provide a letter from NHS England explaining that you are a critical worker. 

The British Dental Association has advised the chief dental officer that they will support private practices with a template letter as required.

Volunteering to help deliver the vaccine 
We encourage you to volunteer to support the vaccination programme, if you have capacity after fulfilling clinical responsibilities. Our profession's focus is quite rightly on tackling the backlog in dental care and expanding access, in line with the standard operating procedure. 

We are delighted that former members of NHS staff, including dental professionals, have applied to support the vaccination programme and actually tens of thousands of people have already completed their online training – these are being processed as quickly as possible and volunteers will be deployed as and when they are required.

The full update bulletin is available here.