Dental Hygienists to Help Administer the Covid Vaccine


In Practice: Dental Hygienists sporting updated Personal Protective Equipment as a precaution against coronavirus. Photo Courtesy: Bethany Ayoub, January 18, 2021.

Sean Ayoub, Staff Writer

     Connecticut will soon advance to phase 1B in its plan to deliver the Covid vaccine. However, due to concerns about a lack of doctors and nurses, the Department of Public Health (DPH) has recruited various healthcare professionals, including dental hygienists, for training in administering the vaccine.

     The population of Connecticut totals 3.5 million, all in need of the vaccine. Although nurses can administer injections, they must focus on coronavirus patients. The national lack of qualified healthcare professionals left little hope for vaccine distribution.

     Despite this, Connecticut was proactive and innovative in its response. On Dec. 7, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont signed an order addressing Covid vaccinations. 

     According to the mandate, workers from various health fields, once appropriately trained, will be able to administer the vaccine. The order deems hygienists as one of the healthcare workers authorized to deliver the vaccine, as well as podiatrists, veterinarians, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics.

     Prospective volunteers were immediately placed with a local branch of the Medical Reserve Corps. The organization sends professionals on a variety of healthcare-specific missions. For example, recent volunteers have been testing Yale students for coronavirus. There are several corps locations throughout the state; however, due to its dense population, prominence lies with Yale New Haven Health.

     According to the DPH, work is being done with the UCONN School of Pharmacy to develop a training course for volunteers. Along with an online portion, this includes hands-on vaccine administration training and skills assessment. 

     Though the plan is still in progress, it will be finalized in the coming weeks. Following instruction, volunteers must pass a competency skill check before practicing with their respective corps. Locations include hospitals, health departments, offices, pharmacies, and pop-up vaccination sites across the state.

     The Connecticut chapter of the American Dental Hygienists Association encourages all workers to enlist. Committee chair, Marie Paulis, a registered dental hygienist, has had a large part in instructing volunteers. 

     Paulis comments, “Many [hygienists] want to do something more.” She says she is grateful that Connecticut values its hygienists and recognizes their significance in healthcare. She, along with others, is honored to be part of such a historic movement.