No, COVID-19 Vaccine Passports Are Not Required to Access Dental Care
As Canada continues to manage the far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the recent mandates of vaccine status passports have raised concerns by many people on how this will impact access to dental care.
Vaccination distribution across Canada continues to progress, and with greater proportions of the population receiving fully-vaccinated status, we are seeing some restrictions start to lift on gatherings, events, and certain types of business operations. Of course, public safety is still the top priority of government agencies and businesses alike, and this means that certain precautions and protective measures must still be taken to prevent yet another surge in COVID-19 cases.
These protective measures include the establishment of protocols related to certain events, locations, and businesses, and how access criteria may differ between non-vaccinated individuals and those who are fully vaccinated. While some aspects of access may vary from one type of business or organization to another, there are others, such as essential healthcare operations, for which there will be no difference in access between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. As dentistry is considered an essential healthcare services, this universal access most certainly applies to dental clinics.
It’s naturally understandable that there will still be many questions that patients may have prior to booking an appointment for a dental checkup or treatment procedure about what will be required or asked of them when they arrive. Here, we will answer the most prominent questions that patients are likely to have regarding their next visit to a dental clinic, whether they have been fully vaccinated or not.
Are Patients Required to Show Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination at a Dentist Office?
- Patients will not be required to present proof of vaccination in order to obtain essential dental care at a dentist office in Canada. An established set of screening protocols that have been in place since the onset of the pandemic remain effective and apply to all patients and staff inside the clinic, regardless of vaccination status. These screenings are intended to limit the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus by identifying high-risk situations and taking the appropriate action to reduce the risk and keep everyone as safe as possible from exposure to the virus.
During the screening process, dental clinic staff will ask the standard questions regarding any existing symptoms, potential contact with anyone confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19, and recent travel. A patient may be asked about their vaccination status, however they are fully within their rights to refuse to disclose this information if they so choose. While their refusal to disclose will be noted in their dental records, it will not result in any denial of dental care, and this is simply a required record keeping protocol.
Are Dental Clinic Employees Required to Disclose Vaccination Status to Patients?
- Staff members inside the dental clinic are not required to disclose their vaccination status if asked by a patient. It is important to note that the official position of the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, as well as of Health Canada and all other health authorities that all individuals who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine should do so.
As health care workers, dental clinic employees are urged to receive the vaccine if eligible, but this cannot be made a requirement of employment. Individual clinics are also recommended to set forth their own workplace policies related to COVID-19 vaccination, however these policies must not conflict with Directive #6 for Public Hospitals of the Public Hospitals Act.
As employers, dentists are permitted to ask employees their vaccination status, however employees are not required to disclose this information if they do not wish to. Similar to the documenting of a patients’ refusal to disclose vaccination status, an employer may document an employees’ refusal in their employment record. Furthermore, the employer cannot disclose any personal information about employees without permission, including vaccination status, to any other employee or to patients. This information can only be disclosed with the expressed approval of the employee in question.
How is Georgian Dental Keeping Patients and Staff Safe During COVID-19?
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgian Dental has followed an extensive set of procedures and protocols with the expressed purpose of providing the safest and most controlled environment for patients and staff at all times. A thorough screening is performed of all patients prior to their appointments, and of staff before the start of each workday. Georgian Dental also utilizes a comprehensive set of protective equipment and sterilization methods we call SQuAD (Sterilization Quality Assurance Directive), both designed to eliminate surface contamination and prevent the spread of any airborne particles throughout the clinic.
Some of the equipment and protective measures that patients will notice upon visiting the clinic are hand sanitization placements and a temperature check station in the lobby. All employees are prepared with the appropriate recommended personal protective equipment (PPE), including face masks, gloves, face shields, N95 ventilators, and other varieties of PPE that may be needed for specific types of procedures and treatments. All PPE used in Georgian Dental clinics is rated to meet or exceed the standards determined by Health Canada and all other applicable health and safety regulatory organizations.
Clear plastic barriers inside the clinic provide additional protection, and sealed treatment areas prevent movement of air between spaces. In-room HEPA filtration units continually scrub the air and sanitize it, while team members follow a strict regimen of surface decontamination and cleaning with anti-bacterial solutions. All instruments and tools used in dental treatments are cataloged and disinfected after each procedure using specialized autoclave sterilization machines. Sterilization of all tools is verified using bio-indicator devices to ensure 100% destruction of all organic material.
To supplement these efforts, an ozone sterilization system operates in the clinic each night while the facility is empty. This equipment uses the purification properties of airborne ozone molecules to completely decontaminate all surfaces throughout the clinic via the ventilation and HVAC system. Once the sanitization cycle is complete, the ozone rapidly dissipates from the air inside the clinic, leaving all surfaces clean and ready for the next day of patient visits.
For a complete list of all protective measures in place at Georgian Dental clinics, please refer to our COVID-19 Safety Protocols.
Georgian Dental Remains Committed to the Care of All Patients
The Ontario Dental Association urges all patients to receive the COVID-19 vaccine if possible, but has clearly stated that under no circumstances will vaccine status result in the denial of dental care. At Georgian Dental, we align with the ODA, and encourage all eligible persons to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine, and also fully respect an individuals’ right to privacy. Whether you choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or not, you can rest assured that you will receive the same quality dental care and welcoming environment at Georgian Dental that you’ve always had.
If you’ve been delaying obtaining critical dental care treatments due to the uncertainty of the global pandemic, or are apprehensive about visiting the clinic for a checkup or cleaning over concerns about safety, we want to reinforce to you that we are taking all the necessary steps to keep you, your family, and our staff safe and protected at all times.
We would be glad to speak with you to address any specific questions or concerns you may have, and arrange for an appointment at your convenience. Simply contact us today to get started. The quality of your dental health is our top priority, and we look forward to your next visit. From all of us here at Georgian Dental, stay safe, and stay healthy!