WATAUGA — With a new executive order issued Feb. 9 by Gov. Roy Cooper, dentists can now help with COVID-19 vaccination efforts across the state.

The order allows dentists to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. North Carolina joins at least 20 other states in allowing dentists to administer a vaccine.

AppHealthCare spokesperson Melissa Bracey said they are glad for the additional vaccination capacity with dentists now being allowed to help with the administration.

“We have dentists on our staff so we look forward to planning and developing a process to add them and other local dentists to the list of professionals who have the ability to administer vaccines,” Bracey said.

Bracey said AppHealthCare expects the agency’s own dentist, Amanda Stroud, will help with vaccinations.

“The people of North Carolina deserve to have every trained professional possible on hand to help administer this vaccine as quickly, efficiently and effectively as possible,” Stroud said. “Dentists are uniquely trained in injection techniques and I am thrilled to soon see dental professionals be able to work alongside our medical colleagues to continue to battle this pandemic.”

David Crank, the dentist at High Country Dentistry, said his office needs to have a better understanding of what administering vaccines would look like. Among the questions Crank said his office would need to know before they would consider administering vaccinations would be what liabilities would be involved, what record keeping and reporting is needed, and would they be vaccinating patients during regular appointments or outside the regular office hours?

“Without these questions satisfactorily answered — and any other related questions that might arise — we are not able to move toward administering the vaccine in our office,” Crank said.

Crank said his office has little concern about the spread of COVID-19 within their operations as the office is set up with an office-wide air purification system “that filters at a higher efficiency than what is found even in hospital operating rooms.”

Overall, Crank said he thinks it is a positive that dentists are now able to administer vaccines, but he said he would like to see specific training to certify dentists and their staff in proper handling and vaccine administration techniques.

“So, for dental staff — and others not accustomed to administering vaccines — to join in the vaccination effort without proper training to handle or administer vaccines would seem very improper to me,” Crank said.

If a dentist would like to volunteer at a AppHealthCare vaccine clinic, Bracey said they would welcome their assistance and can sign up on their online volunteer form at forms.gle/YhiJWFosJq1M9egg8.

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