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COVID-19 Information

The MDS continues to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and will keep members informed of any new developments and recommendations. Please be sure to read all the communications we send you and continue to check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Dental Association, and Massachusetts Department of Public Health websites for the most current information and updated guidelines.

Effective April 12, 2022: The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) updated its Comprehensive PPE guidance. Effective immediately, health care personnel, including dental team members who are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, may remove their masks when they are in well-defined areas restricted from patient access (e.g., staff meeting rooms, kitchen). The March 2022 CDC guidance on mask-wearing for some settings continues. The CDC has not lifted the mask mandate for medical facilities, including dental offices. The requirement to continue to wear a mask in medical and dental offices applies to patients, residents, staff, vendors, and visitors — except in the circumstances listed above. The MDS will continue to monitor any CDC or Massachusetts DPH mask guidance changes.


How Updated Mask Guidelines Affect Dental Practices

9.1.2022

Mask advisory and guidance for Massachusetts residents
Effective July 1, 2022, the Department of Public Health advises that individuals should wear a mask or face covering when indoors (and not in your own home) if you have a weakened immune system, or if you are at increased risk for severe disease because of your age or an underlying medical condition, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease.
Download the latest advisory, updated June 10, 2022: Updated Advisory Regarding Masks and Face Coverings PDF | DOC

Masks continue to be Required in Dental Offices
Masks continue to be required for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals at all times in healthcare facilities including dental offices. This requirement applies to patients, residents, staff, vendors and visitors according to the MA Department of Public Health. This information was verified on September 1, 2022. 

N95 Requirement in Dental Offices
When performing or involved with aerosol-generating procedures (open suctioning of airways, sputum induction and others), dental health care personnel should continue to wear NIOSH-approved N95, N95-equivalent or higher-level respirators.

NIOSH-approved N95 should also be worn for all surgical procedures that might pose higher risk for transmission if the patient has SARS-CoV-2 infection (e.g., that generate potentially infectious aerosols or involving anatomic regions where viral loads might be higher, such as the nose and throat, oropharynx, respiratory tract).

Details on the use of N95s and other safety measures are available in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s interim infection prevention and control recommendations for health care settings in the U.S. The CDC’s clinical FAQ lists all procedures considered to be aerosol generating in health care settings.

When not involved with aerosol-generating procedures, dentists, dental team members and patients should continue to wear well-fitting face masks in the dental office.


4.12.2022

Effective April 12, 2022: The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) updated its Comprehensive PPE guidance. Effective immediately, health care personnel, including dental team members who are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, may remove their masks when they are in well-defined areas restricted from patient access (e.g., staff meeting rooms, kitchen). The March 2022 CDC guidance on mask-wearing for some settings continues. The CDC has not lifted the mask mandate for medical facilities, including dental offices. The requirement to continue to wear a mask in medical and dental offices applies to patients, residents, staff, vendors, and visitors — except in the circumstances listed above. The MDS will continue to monitor any CDC or Massachusetts DPH mask guidance changes.


3.2.2022

Effective March 1, 2022: The CDC updated its guidance on mask wearing and announced that it is no longer requiring that masks be worn on school buses or vans for K-12 and child care programs, and public outdoor transportation settings. The CDC has not lifted the mask mandate for medical facilities which includes dental offices. The requirement to continue to wear a mask in medical and dental offices applies to patients, residents, staff, vendors, and visitors. The MDS will continue to monitor any CDC mask guidance changes. Learn more Massachusetts information at mass.gov


1.3.2022

As COVID-19 case counts increase due to the Delta and Omicron variants, especially for fully vaccinated people, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidance urging fully vaccinated Americans to continue to wear face masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. On December 21, 2021, Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) issued an updated mask advisory for Massachusetts residents. Per the DPH, if you are fully vaccinated, you are advised to wear a mask or face covering when indoors (and not in your own home) if:

  • You have a weakened immune system
  • You are at increased risk for severe disease because of your age or an underlying medical condition
  • Someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is an unvaccinated adult. 
Note that masks are still mandatory in all health care facilities, including dental practices, so both dental providers and patients are still required to wear masks.


8.3.2021

With the alarming increase in COVID-19 case counts and the highly transmissible Delta variant that is causing infections in vaccinated people, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidance last week urging fully vaccinated Americans to once again wear face masks in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. On Friday, July 30, 2021, Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) issued a new mask advisory for Massachusetts residents. Per the DPH, if you are fully vaccinated, you are advised to wear a mask or face covering when indoors (and not in your own home) if:

  • You have a weakened immune system
  • You are at increased risk for severe disease because of your age or an underlying medical condition
  • Someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is an unvaccinated adult. 
Note that masks are still mandatory in all health care facilities, including dental practices, so both dental providers and patients are still required to wear masks.


5.21.2021

In light of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People and Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker's COVID-19 Order No. 67 pertaining to COVID-19 mask requirements, the Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) would like to provide members an update for how these guidelines may impact dental practice in the Commonwealth.

Effective May 29, 2021, the Commonwealth’s face-covering order will be rescinded. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) will issue a new face-covering advisory consistent with the CDC's updated guidance. Face coverings will still be mandatory for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals at all times in health care facilities and provider offices, defined as health care facilities or providers licensed or operated by the Commonwealth including nursing homes, rest homes, emergency medical services, hospitals, doctors' offices, urgent care settings, community health centers, vaccination sites, behavioral health clinics, and Bureau of Substance and Addiction Services facilities. This requirement applies to patients and staff. 

Aside from the updated mask guidance, dental practices are encouraged to use their best professional judgment to maintain an up-to-date mitigation strategy to protect the safety and well-being of their workforce and practice. Mitigation strategies may include:
  • Routine health screenings such as COVID-19-related questions and temperature checks. Clinicians may choose to include questions related to COVID-19 symptoms, exposure, recent diagnostics, and vaccinations. If dental personnel, patients, or any members of the public have any questions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, please refer them to the following resources:
  • Air filtration systems
  • Secondary barriers, such as plexiglass partitions
  • Controlled dental practice workflow, such as single-use entrances and exits, restricted waiting room use, and limitations on visitors

It is important to remember that patients are likely to continue to expect heightened safety protocols throughout their dental experience.

Members are encouraged to review CDC guidance to safeguard the well-being of all dental personnel and maintain the health and safety of the public.

As a reminder, per DPH Phase 4 reopening guidance, health care providers must continue to:

1. Restrict the number of health care workers in the treatment space to those individuals necessary to complete the service or procedure for the patient.
2. Have a written protocol in place for screening all employees for symptoms of COVID-19 prior to entering the facility or office.
3. Adopt policies that address health care workers' safety and well-being.
4. Ensure providers and staff can socially distance to the maximum extent possible.

The MDS will continue to advise members as new information becomes available.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

8.8.2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine, the fourth vaccine approved to reduce the risks of the novel coronavirus, including the risk of severe illness and death. Novavax, the first protein-based vaccine, is authorized for use in adults 18 and older who have not previously been vaccinated against COVID-19. Novavax joins the roster of safe, effective vaccines that includes Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson. All four are covered by health plans, with no out-of-pocket cost.


3.2.2022

As of late March 2022, more than 5.2 million individuals in Massachusetts have been fully vaccinated, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Any individual ages 5-plus who lives, works, or studies in Massachusetts can receive a COVID-19 vaccination by contacting their primary care physician or through a local pharmacy (e.g., CVS, Walgreens, etc.), or through the state's COVID-19 Vaccine Finder webpage.

Additionally, all individuals ages 12 and over who are fully vaccinated are eligible to receive a booster shot. The booster should be administered at least five months after the individual completes their primary COVID-19 vaccination series.

For all questions regarding safety, efficacy, and other expectations for your vaccination, we encourage you to visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine webpage.

Updated Staffing Concerns Amid COVID-19 Variants

1.3.2022

As a profession, we have done a terrific job keeping patients and staff safe throughout this pandemic; however, all dental practices must continue to stay vigilant. As COVID-19 and its Omicron variant continue to challenge public health measures, many small business owners—including dental practices—have concerns regarding how to handle staff members who test positive or have been exposed to an infected individual. The MDS Dental Practice and Benefits Committee wants to help you stay informed on the latest changes to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for health care professionals and the general public.

The CDC has developed an informative table that describes its recommendations based on a variety of factors, such as vaccination status, exposure, and degree of symptoms. Note that the CDC may be revising its guidance in the coming days to include a negative test result before returning to work. 

Per the CDC, factors that can reduce the risk for transmission in the health care setting include, but are not limited to, correct use of personal protective equipment by health care practitioners and use of well-fitting source control by any individual infected with COVID-19, whether the health care professional and/or the individual have received all COVID-19 vaccine doses, including the booster.

For further clarification, please read the CDC's Interim Guidance for Managing Healthcare Personnel with SARS-CoV-2 Infection or Exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

MDS Board of Trustees COVID-19 Vaccine Recommendation

8.24.21

At its August 20 meeting, the Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) Board of Trustees voted to adopt the American Dental Association (ADA) recommendation that strongly encourages dentists and their team members to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. The ADA, which notified members of this recommendation in a July 28 email, is not currently calling for mandated vaccinations. In the July 28 notification, ADA President Dr. Daniel J. Klemmedson stressed that the ADA policy urges vaccination in agreement with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, but that the CDC isn’t calling for mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for health care professionals at this time.

MDS Board of Trustees Flu Vaccine Recommendation

10.5.2020

The combination of the seasonal flu and the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to overwhelm the health care system. If this happens, the United States could see key supplies diverted to hospitals, reintroduced prohibition on non-emergency dental care, and another complete shutdown of the Massachusetts economy.

Thus, the Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) strongly recommends all dental professionals get the flu vaccine. Additionally, the MDS strongly recommends all dentists encourage their patients to get the flu vaccine.

“A seasonal influenza outbreak could have devastating effects on our already taxed health care system and the state economy,” says MDS President Dr. MaryJane Hanlon. “As a profession, it is imperative that we do all we can to ensure Massachusetts does not roll back to Phases 1 or 2, which could force dental practices to revert to providing only emergency care.

“We urge the dental community to do its part in trying to minimize the dual impact of flu season and the COVID-19 pandemic on our patients, our communities, and the health care system," she continues. "As essential health care workers, dental professionals should protect themselves and their patients by getting a flu shot.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that “all U.S. health care workers get vaccinated annually against influenza” and an annual flu vaccination be administered to “everyone 6 months of age and older, with rare exceptions, because it is an effective way to decrease flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.”

Disclaimer

Information on COVID-19 is changing on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. The MDS has made every attempt to ensure that information is up-to-date, but with rapid changes occurring some information may have changed since publication. The date of publication is noted at the top of the page. Please visit www.coronavirus.gov or www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-updates-and-information for the most up-to-date information on COVID-19.