COVID-19 Vaccine Information
Any individual ages 12-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.
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.
Latest COVID-19 Vaccine Updates
Can You Mandate Staff to Get Vaccinated?Now that the COVID-19 vaccines are finally here, many dental practice owners may be wondering if they can mandate that their dental staff get vaccinated. Locally, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is not mandating the COVID-19 vaccine, but the DPH does stress that the vaccine has been shown to be highly effective at preventing illness and is an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 and in keeping your patients and community safe from continued spread of the virus. According to guidance issued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, employers who want to encourage or possibly require COVID-19 vaccinations must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This means that if you implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in your practice, you must make exceptions for employees who cannot be vaccinated due to a disability, medical complications, pregnancy, or sincerely held religious beliefs, and provide reasonable accommodations, such as allowing the staff person to work remotely or take a leave of absence.
Rather than implementing a vaccine mandate, the MDS advises practice owners to focus instead on educating team members on the public health importance of the vaccine and encouraging them to get vaccinated. To motivate team members to get vaccinated, practice owners could:
- Engage in dialogues with team members to discuss the vaccine and its critical impact in slowing the spread
- Set an example for staff and get the vaccine yourself
- Make obtaining the vaccine as easy as possible for staff
- Provide paid time off for staff to get vaccinated and recover from any potential side effects
It’s also important to remember that all the safeguards put into place at the start of the pandemic (e.g., PPE, hand hygiene, disinfecting protocols, patient screening, social distancing measures, etc.) are still required since it's possible that not every staff member or patient will choose to be vaccinated. Remind your team members—even those who’ve received the vaccine—to continue to follow the recommended guidelines. For other vaccine-related questions, check out the ADA's COVID-19 Vaccines in the Dental Workplace: FAQs for Practice Owners on COVID-19 vaccines and the MDS COVID-19 Vaccine FAQ found on this page.
COVID-19 Vaccine Access and Scheduling
On January 21, the Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) announced the good news that dental professionals in Massachusetts could now schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments. This is thanks to the Commonwealth opening COVID-19 vaccinations to all remaining groups in Phase 1 of the state’s vaccine distribution plan, including dental professionals who provide patient-facing care. This news was a long time coming and followed weeks of effort by MDS leadership and an initial lack of cooperation from the state.
The MDS is thankful for the patience and resilience that Massachusetts dental professionals demonstrated with the long-awaited state-approved eligibility to receive the approved COVID-19 vaccines. We hope to clarify some of the many important updates from this week.
- As part of the Phase 1 eligibility, all patient-facing dental personnel are eligible as health care workers doing non-COVID-facing care.
- Dental personnel can make an appointment at any of the designated Massachusetts vaccine locations. We expect the capacity and number of sites to increase as the Massachusetts Vaccination Program continues to develop from its preliminary stages.
- Depending on sites, you may need to demonstrate your eligibility with the necessary documents outlined by the state.
- 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.
We are encouraged by the organization and preparation taken by Massachusetts officials to provide these detailed and informative resources. The MDS is working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and continues to advocate on behalf of Massachusetts dental professionals through efforts to provide the following:
- Expanded access for dental personnel to receive the vaccine through designated vaccine locations that may have allocated vaccines and appointments for registered dental personnel
Vaccination sites are being launched regularly. We will keep you informed of any dental professional-designated COVID-19 locations that open through this partnership with the DPH. We encourage those members interested in receiving a vaccine to view the online map of locations providing vaccines to eligible individuals and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
COVID-19 Vaccine Questions and Answers
COVID-19 Vaccine and Your Patients
Resources for Dental Health Care Professionals
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.