In 2021, the CDA Foundation entered into a grant agreement with the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Oral Health to provide trainings and materials to educate dentists and the public on the administration and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.
As the philanthropic arm of the California Dental Association, the Foundation has been committed to its mission since it began 2001: Improve the oral and overall health of all Californians by supporting the dental profession in its efforts to meet community needs.
Many California dentists, dental students, dental professionals and individuals know the Foundation through its grant and award programs and its 12 years of volunteer-run dental clinics held in communities throughout the state, but the COVID-19 pandemic led the Foundation to expand its advocacy and reach into new areas.
COVID-19 brought increased precautions in dentistry with changes to acceptable PPE, administrative practices, airspace filtering and patient screening – including through the use rapid testing for SARS-Cov-2.
When a COVID-19 vaccine became available, state law made dentists eligible vaccinators for the first time in California. Creating opportunities to vaccinate at every entry point in the health care system, including dental offices, became vital for increased access to preventive care.
CDA, the Foundation and California dentists responded. “Pathogens, Testing and Vaccines: California Dentists’ Role in the Public Health Response to COVID-19,” published in the latest collection of the Journal of the California Dental Association, reviews this response.
Richard Graham, DDS, chair of the CDA Foundation Board of Directors and lead author of the article, writes:
"I am impressed with the joint efforts of CDA, California’s dental leadership, dental practitioners statewide and our partners in the state Legislature and academia to adapt and promote sound practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. While no one was unaffected by the global consequences of the virus, the dental profession was especially effective in its ability and willingness to implement new guidelines to protect our patients, ourselves and the general public. The health care field is undergoing constant evolution, and I am proud of my profession’s ability to also evolve to continue to provide dental care in a safe manner.”
To showcase some of the work accomplished during the pandemic as part of the grant agreement with the Office of Oral Health, the Foundation released the Impact Report and Overview of the 2021-2023 Vaccine Confidence Grant.
The Vaccine Confidence Grant supported the Foundation’s efforts to:
In its 2021 survey of California dentists, the Foundation learned, for example, that dentists not only had a high rate of vaccination compared to the overall population but that dentists reported feeling comfortable in their role of encouraging patients to get vaccinated.
The survey results supported CDA’s creation of the Vaccine Confidence Toolkit to help educate dentists, their patients and the public on vaccine safety and efficacy with resources such as in-office flyers, sample social media posts, sample announcements that dental offices could use to promote in-office vaccination programs and talking points to address vaccine hesitancy.
The grant also enabled the Foundation to work with the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry to create in-person and online continuing education courses focused on COVID-19 vaccine administration, patient preparation and proper documentation that comply with dental board requirements.
By completing the grant contract requirements, the CDA Foundation quantified the value of vaccination by dental teams and identified the highest-need communities that can be strengthened by vaccination efforts.
The Foundation and CDA members made significant progress to enhance vaccine confidence among dentists, dental team members, and patients and opening opportunities for further engagement in disease prevention efforts.
Read the Foundation’s Vaccine Confidence Grant impact report.