Dr. Mark Funke: Why Nevada dentists should be allowed to give vital vaccines
As history and especially these trying times have shown, vaccines are vital in the fight against deadly diseases.
Such diseases include measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, tetanus, Hepatitis B and the flu. Despite the effectiveness of vaccines over many decades, millions of Americans choose not to get vaccinated each year. The need is even greater here in Nevada, where vaccination rates traditionally rank among the lowest in the nation.
Even more concerning, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted thousands of Nevadans to miss or delay their routine checkups and immunizations, at least in part out of fear of visiting a doctor’s office or other health care facility.
While the pandemic has obviously changed the health care landscape, it has also opened the door to some creative and common-sense ways to address these issues and improve access to care. One example of this is the current proposal from the Nevada Dental Association and others to secure state approvals allowing Nevada dentists who wish to do so to provide these most important vaccinations at their local dental offices.
There is already precedent for this, since pharmacists in Nevada recently received state approval to administer such vaccines.
As doctors who specialize in oral health, dentists use our knowledge, training and experience to treat a wide range of patients and determine diagnoses and treatment plans. Dentists must obtain a doctorate degree, just like medical doctors, making them more than qualified to safely administer vaccines.
Three states have already passed laws allowing dentists to administer specific vaccines in Illinois, Minnesota and Oregon. Legislation in each state stipulates that proper training must be completed before dentists can give vaccines.
Once a COVID-19 vaccine is approved and available, allowing Nevada dentists to be part of the state’s vaccine distribution system will create another helpful and convenient option for Nevadans to get vaccinated.
Dentists, like medical doctors, successfully deal with potential exposure to COVID-19 and other illnesses every day when serving patients.
We’re ready, willing and able to provide this essential public service. We’re also confident that allowing Nevada dentists to administer vaccines for COVID-19 and other common diseases will help us save lives and improve the health of our fellow Nevadans.
Dr. Mark Funke, president of the Nevada Dental Association and Carson City resident.