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Leadership Corner: CDA President Dr. Judee Tippett-Whyte on vaccine safety, voluntary vaccine policies and infection control

February 04, 2021 1324

Quick Summary:

Dr. Tippett-Whyte answers your questions about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, why it’s best to avoid implementing a mandatory vaccine policy among your dental staff and offers guidance on maintaining extra infection control protocols. 

The following is a transcript of her remarks: 

Hello, welcome to the Leadership Corner. I'm Dr. Judee Tippett-Whyte, president of the California Dental Association and I'm here to answer your questions about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine, the importance of factual education for our staff and to remind you to stay vigilant with extra infection control protocols, even with a vaccinated staff.

As California ramps up the COVID-19 vaccine distribution to health care professionals, practice owners may be wondering if they are permitted to implement a vaccine policy in the office.

It's important to remember to be respectful of your employees’ right to choose if they wish to be vaccinated. CDA recommends as best practice that practice owners encouraged, but not require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Legal risks and complications, including the potential for side effects from the vaccine and the need to consider medical and sincere religious objections can make encouraging employee vaccination, a better option for practice owners than to require it.

To motivate team members to get vaccinated, we can consider:

  • Educating our staff on the safety and importance of being vaccinated
  • Make obtaining the vaccine as easy as possible and cover any costs
  • Provide PTO for employees to get the vaccine and recover from any potential side effects

For those practice owners who feel strongly about requiring employees to be vaccinated, your advised to speak with an employment law attorney before implementing a mandatory policy. You can find resources on cda.org.

We understand that some of you may be concerned about the safety of the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine has been deemed safe and effective by the FDA and independent scientists across the country.

The development of the vaccine was unique in that stages were permitted to proceed simultaneously, but no steps were ever skipped in the development process.

All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S. have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19, according to the CDC. Also, CDC experts believe that getting the vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously ill, even if you do get COVID-19.

Even though the vaccine is becoming more widely available, it's really important that we remain vigilant with our infection control protocols. Continue to maintain best safety practices. Even with vaccinated employees or patients, existing COVID-19 prevention precautions remain necessary.

The vaccine does not guarantee immediate or complete immunity and researchers are still unclear if a vaccinated person can spread the virus, even if they don't get sick themselves.

Plus, a fully vaccinated staff does not completely reduce our obligation as employers to maintain workplace safety standards. Our dental team members need to remember to:

  • Continue to wear adequate PPE
  • Do daily employee and patient screenings
  • Practice social distancing
  • Wash your hands often and disinfect frequently touched surfaces

The combination of getting vaccinated and following the CDC’s recommended safety protocols offer the best protection from COVID, according to the CDC.

CDA will continue to update you through email, social media posts and the CDA Newsroom.

It's important that we break down the barriers of vaccine misinformation and build bridges of trust with factual information for our employees and our patients and continue to remain vigilant and stay the course.

I look forward to bringing you additional updates throughout the year, meanwhile, stay healthy, stay safe, be well and look for your opportunity to build a bridge. Thank you.

CDA’s COVID-19 Vaccine Staff Training provides step-by-step guidance on implementing a voluntary vaccine policy in the dental practice, how to answer patient questions about the vaccine, educating dental staff on vaccine safety and more.