The Impact of COVID-19 Vaccines On Dental Health Care
As vaccine distribution continues across Canada, many people are unsure of how life will change, and what it means for various health care services they require.
The light is on the horizon for Canadians as COVID-19 vaccines have finally started to be distributed across the country. This is good news for everyone, however it’s still going to be many months until we are totally out of the woods and things can return to a state of normalcy. In the meantime, it’s important to understand how certain things will change and the situation evolves as more and more people are given the vaccine, while others patiently await their turn.
This is particularly relevant when it comes to obtaining health care services, including visits to your dental clinic. In this article, we’re going to explore how the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines will impact the health and safety guidelines we’ve been following in our daily lives, and what patients will need to know about getting dental care once they’ve received their vaccine.
When Is Someone Considered to Be ‘Fully Vaccinated’?
While vaccines are our best defence against viruses like COVID-19, taking a vaccine isn’t exactly like flipping a switch and turning on an invisible shield. It’s not an instantaneous effect. The science behind vaccines is really quite fascinating, and if you’d like to learn more about how vaccines work to protect us, the World Health Organization has a valuable resource that provides a wealth of information on the topic. You can find it here – Vaccines and Immunization: What is Vaccination?
Depending on the type of vaccine a person is given, the timeline to achieve full vaccination status will vary slightly. Currently, there are two types of COVID-19 vaccines being administered in Canada. Some vaccines, such as those produced by Pfizer and Moderna, require two doses administered 21 days apart for Pfizer, and 28 days apart for Moderna. The other type of COVID-19 vaccine available in Canada is a single-dose vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson.
A person is considered to be ‘fully vaccinated’ two weeks after the one-dose vaccine has been administered, or two weeks after receiving their second dose of the two-dose vaccine. Once someone has crossed this threshold and is considered fully vaccinated, there are revised guidelines that they are permitted to follow. However, certain precautions are still necessary for the safety of others who have not yet been vaccinated.
How Do Health and Safety Guidelines Change Once Someone Is Vaccinated?
Once vaccinated, some of the recommended guidelines on personal protective measures are relaxed in certain circumstances. Specifically, the use of masks in different types of situations is not always required. For example, the CDC has indicated that individuals who have been fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks when gathering indoors with other vaccinated individuals. Furthermore, vaccinated persons do not need to wear a mask when indoors with a group of unvaccinated people who all reside in the same household, however this does not apply if any of those people are at higher risk of severe COVID illness.
Lastly, vaccinated individuals do not need to strictly avoid contact with others if they have been in close proximity to someone who has COVID-19 unless they are exhibiting symptoms associated with the virus. However, for those people who are employed in or live in a group setting such as a retirement home, long-term care facility, corrections center, or other similar environment, you should follow a 14-day self-isolation and obtain a test in the event that you come into contact with someone infected with COVID-19, even if you are not exhibiting any signs or symptoms associated with the virus.
What Has Not Changed Even When Someone Becomes Vaccinated?
Even when fully vaccinated, it is still in the best interests of your family and community to follow self-protection guidelines when in public spaces, gathering with people from more than one household who have not been fully vaccinated, or coming in to close proximity with high-risk individuals.
Travel should still be avoided unless absolutely necessary, and even when traveling you will still be required to adhere to all health and safety recommendations without exception. Workplace environments are also spaces where you absolutely must follow all required precautions for the safety of all those who come and go from those locations.
Finally, you must continue to remain vigilant and closely monitor your own health for any signs and symptoms related to COVID-19. In the event that you experience any of these symptoms, it is recommended you self-isolate and obtain guidance from your doctor, even if you have been fully vaccinated. It’s simply not worth the risks of potentially exposing others who are not vaccinated yet.
What is Georgian Dental Doing to Ensure Patient Safety?
Georgian Dental remains committed to providing a safe and protected environment for our patients and staff, and so we continue to follow all precautions and guidelines as set forth by health authorities for dental clinics during COVID-19. This includes a comprehensive set of safety protocols and requirements for visiting patients, staff, and for our clinic spaces to minimize the risks of potential exposure and maintain a clean, sanitary environment.
Regardless of vaccination status, all patients entering the clinic spaces will be required to wear facemasks, and a Georgian Dental team member will conduct a symptom screening when you arrive. Hand sanitizer is available throughout the clinic, physical distancing measures are still in place, and the number of people inside the building is kept to a minimum.
All staff are equipped with a set of personal protective equipment (PPE), including face masks, face shields, and respirators as required. In addition, clear barriers and room dividers are in place to prevent airborne particles from spreading from one space to another, and in-room HEPA air filtration systems are continually running to sanitize the air inside the clinic.
At the end of each day, a top-to-bottom sanitization of all clinic spaces and surfaces is performed using an advanced ozone-saturation sterilization system. Once all patients and personnel have left the building for the day, the ozone sanitization system runs during the night, flooding all spaces with an airborne ozone mixture through the ventilation system of the building. This ozone mixture completely sanitizes all surfaces it comes in contact with, and then rapidly dissipates to become inert and harmless. Each morning when the clinic opens its doors again, the entire environment is disinfected and ready for the day.
For a complete list of all safety precautions and protocols that are in place at Georgian Dental clinics, we recommend you review our Guide to COVID-19 Dental Clinic Protocols. We consider the safety of our patients and staff our absolute top priority, and are continually working to provide the highest levels of protection for all individuals who enter our clinic spaces.
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay the Course
We have hit a turning point in the fight against COVID-19 with vaccine distribution now taking place nationwide, and so we look forward to the day when the threat of this virus has become reduced to the point where life can return to normal. Until that day arrives, it’s the responsibility of every person to remain dedicated to keeping themselves and all others safe to the best of our abilities.
Here at Georgian Dental, we remain focused on delivering exceptional dental health care to all our patients and their families in a safe and protected environment. If you’re in need of any type of dental treatment, from a simple cleaning, to braces & orthodontics, or even emergency dental care, we are here and ready to help. Contact us today to arrange for your next appointment. We look forward to seeing you again soon!