COVID-19 Vaccine Information
On January 21, 2021, Governor Charlie Baker announced that the state was opening COVID-19 vaccination to ALL remaining Phase 1 groups in the state’s vaccine distribution plan, including dental professionals providing patient-facing care. All dental professionals eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine can make appointments at any of the locations providing vaccines to eligible individuals, including the state's mass vaccine sites at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro and Fenway Park. Appointments for these mass vaccine sites can be made online. The initial capacity for the Fenway Park site, a convenient location for dentists in the Boston area, will be approximately 500 vaccinations per day and will ramp up to thousands of vaccines administered daily. The state launched Phase 2 of the its vaccine rollout plan, with individuals eligible in Phase 2—including residents aged 75 and over—to begin receiving the vaccine on February 1.
Once you've scheduled an appointment, you should print the state's attestation form, fill it out, and bring it with you to your appointment. You may also be required to bring identification, such as an employer-issued ID card that includes your name and title, government-issued identification or license, or recent paystub. Verify the site's specific requirements when you make your appointment.
Additional locations and appointments are being added continually throughout the state, including new openings at Gillette Stadium, so we encourage those dental health care professionals that are interested in receiving the vaccine to view the online map of locations providing vaccines to eligible individuals and schedule your appointment as soon as possible. This map is updated frequently so check back often throughout the day if you are having difficulty scheduling an appointment.
We also urge members to contact their local health department to see if there are any municipal vaccine sites dedicated to residents in your city or town.
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 Vaccination Volunteer Opportunities
The MDS is pleased to announce that there are many opportunities for dental professions to volunteer at COVID-19 vaccination drives. Dentists are already skilled at administering injections, making them well-poised to support the acceleration of COVID-19 vaccination administration.
Who Can Volunteer?
As dentists and dental hygienists, it is within the scope of practice to deliver vaccine injections. Retired dentists whose licenses have expired within the last 10 years may also volunteer as COVID-19 vaccinators. Office staff can volunteer to help with check-in and administrative roles.
Why Should You Help?
MDS members should be proud of the great service that dental offices have provided to our community during this pandemic. The MDS has been asked many times how we, as dentists and dental professionals, can help support our health care colleagues combat this disease. There is an enormous challenge underway to vaccinate our community, and dental professionals are in a unique position to help. Engaging dental professionals to volunteer as COVID-19 vaccinators will help reduce the burden on other health care providers and illustrate to the community that dental professionals are trained and willing to do our part to put an end to this pandemic.
Malpractice Insurance Concerns
Eastern Dentists Insurance Company (EDIC) has said that it will provide liability coverage for dental personnel, who are already enrolled in EDIC, volunteering as vaccinators. If you use another insurance carrier for your malpractice insurance, you should verify your coverage for vaccination administration with them.
In addition, the American Dental Association has submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to request guidance regarding temporary liability protection for dentists who administer approved COVID-19 vaccines under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act). The MDS will continue to monitor the HHS’s response to this request.
Additional information on risk coverage.
Some of the vaccination locations offer on-site training to volunteers—please check with the location directly.
There is a free COVID-19 vaccine training program available from NEJM Knowledge+. Launched in early February, NEJM Knowledge+ COVID-19 Vaccine Training: What Every Clinician Needs to Know is a free course that covers the fundamentals of the COVID-19 vaccines and the practicalities of how they are used. The course, created in collaboration with experts in vaccine science, offers a new and effective way for clinicians to master what they need to know about the new COVID-19 vaccines and includes links to NEJM Group resources for helping clinicians answer patients’ questions about these vaccines. Register for this course.
The following training resources have been made available to MDS members by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health:
- Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Recorded training webinar
- Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Recorded training webinar
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Understanding the Basics: General Best Practice Guidelines on Immunizations
COVID-19 Vaccine Training Modules
COVID-19 Vaccination Training Programs and Reference Materials for Healthcare Professionals
Volunteer Opportunities (this list will be updated as new opportunities are announced)
- Worcester/Wachusett Area UMass Memorial Medical Center has invited the MDS to collaborate on a very important Central Massachusetts COVID-19 vaccine initiative. Specifically, dental professionals from MDS Region 2 (Wachusett and Worcester Districts) have been asked to help administer COVID-19 vaccines to underserved residents throughout Central Massachusetts, utilizing the UMass Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program. Through the Mobile Vaccine Equity Enhancement Program (MVeeP), the UMass Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program has been allocated 200 vaccine injections per week to support this initiative and it needs the help of dental professionals to volunteer their time to increase the vaccinators’ bandwidth.
Who Will the Program Serve?
MVeeP is designed to reach communities with barriers to access. Underserved communities, including seniors, home-bound individuals, and community members in hard-hit areas, will be targeted.
The program is tentatively scheduled to begin sometime in March and will take place on Wednesday and Friday afternoons from 12:00 to 3:00 pm. It will require up to 20 volunteers at each location and session.
- Statewide Volunteer Resources
MA Responds is a volunteer management system that integrates local, regional, and statewide volunteer programs to ensure that the Commonwealth is better prepared to respond to health-related emergencies and events. The MDS encourages dentists to register for participation in their local Medical Reserve Court (MRC) unit or the State of Massachusetts COVID Response Team. Learn more about volunteering with MA Responds.
The Vaccine Corps is looking for volunteers to deploy to various settings from mobile units to small clinics and large-scale vaccination sites. Help is needed with everything from administrative duties to giving vaccines. Volunteers can perform a wide variety of duties in a vaccination effort. Those who are licensed dentists and dental hygienists can administer the vaccine, monitor vaccine recipients for side effects, assist with vaccine preparation, and oversee student vaccinators. All other dental professionals can volunteer in a variety of activities supporting the vaccination effort. Learn more about volunteering with the Vaccine Corps.
Additional Resources (provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health)
COVID-19 Vaccine and Your Patients
Resources for Dental Health Care Professionals
Preparing Your Practice to Administer the COVID-19 Vaccine
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.