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Dental Surgeons of Ontario
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Supporting COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts

Widespread vaccination is essential to the long-term containment of COVID-19.

You have an opportunity to support vaccination efforts, model responsible behaviour for your patients and the public, and address vaccine hesitancy.

Getting Vaccinated

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to safeguard the health of your friends, family, colleagues, patients and yourself.

The College strongly recommends:

  1. All dentists are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible unless medically exempted
  2. All dental practices have a workplace COVID-19 vaccination policy consistent with Directive #6 issued by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

If you have questions on workplace policies for the vaccination of staff, contact the Ontario Dental Association.

Responding to Vaccine Hesitancy 

If you are hesitant to get vaccinated, or have staff or patients who have expressed vaccine hesitancy, see the helpful and up-to-date information provided by Centre for Effective Practice (CEP) and 19 to 0: United Against COVID-19.

If you are experiencing hesitancy about the vaccination due to being pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a staff or patient who is, see the helpful and informative resources provided by the Ministry of Heath.

Remember: you must provide care to existing patients regardless of their views about vaccination or their decision to receive or decline vaccination.

Administering Vaccines

Dentists can support vaccine administration efforts in certain circumstances: 

  1. if you are acting under a medical directive or a direct order from a professional who is authorized to administer vaccines (i.e. a physician or nurse practitioner) or
  2. you are re-deployed in a hospital setting to assist with activities related to COVID-19.

Dentists are not authorized to administer vaccines in any other circumstance.

Vaccination Status for COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions

Vaccination status for COVID-19 is a complex legal area, involving human rights, personal health information, privacy, occupational health and safety, and employment law. The law has not been settled on this subject. Although strongly recommended, vaccination for COVID-19 is not mandated by law in Ontario.

Dentists should be sensitive to issues of discrimination or bullying, which may arise when discussing vaccination and disclosure with staff and patients. A dental office should be a safe and inclusive environment for all.

Can a patient ask about my or my staff’s vaccination status for COVID-19?

Vaccination status is personal health information and, therefore, confidential and private. If a patient asks a dentist or their staff about their vaccination status for COVID-19, neither the dentist nor their staff are obligated to reveal this information.

When asked by a patient, a health care worker can choose to divulge their own vaccination status, if they wish. A patient cannot demand this information. If a patient wishes to avoid or delay booking dental appointments, that is their choice.

Can I advertise that everyone in our office is vaccinated against COVID-19?

Dentists should be mindful about publicizing or promoting vaccination status as part of their advertising practices. The College’s Practice Advisory on advertising applies. In terms of the broader advertising regulations, dentists must avoid statements that are suggestive of superiority or uniqueness, as well as statements that are likely to create expectations of favourable results or appeal to the public’s fears. 

Can I ask my patients about their COVID-19 vaccination status?

The Ministry of Health COVID-19 Patient Screening Guidance distinguishes between patients who have and have not been fully immunized* against COVID-19. Additional screening questions are now required for patients who are not fully immunized against COVID-19 (i.e., Questions 5 and 6). Please ensure that you are using the latest version of the form that includes the background question on immunization status, Version 5.0 - August 26, 2021.

*A fully immunized individual is defined as any individual >14 days after receiving their second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series or their first dose of a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine series (i.e., Johnson and Johnson).

All patients must be screened using this form and treated accordingly. The protocols described in the College’s guidance document COVID-19: Managing infection risks during in-person dental care apply to patients based on their screening status, not their vaccination status. Dentists must follow appropriate precautions for all patients based on their screening results for COVID-19.

If a patient refuses to answer the background question (Question 1) or refuses to disclose their COVID-19 immunization status, the dentist should note this refusal in the patient’s record and proceed to ask the screening questions, including the additional screening questions (i.e., Questions 5 and 6).

The patient’s screening results will determine the appropriate protocols, as described in the College’s guidance document.

A patient should never be discriminated against or refused treatment based on their vaccination status, or refusal to disclose this information. Dentists have a duty to provide health care services free from discrimination.

As an employer, can I ask my staff about their COVID-19 vaccination status?

The College strongly recommends:

  1. All dentists are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible unless medically exempted
  2. All dental practices have a workplace COVID-19 vaccination policy consistent with Directive #6 issued by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

It is not mandatory for you to do so, but if you decide to implement a vaccination policy consistent with Directive #6, you can ask your staff for proof of vaccination. If the employee fails to provide proof, then the employer can trigger the other provisions of the vaccination policy for example, testing, additional protective measures, education sessions, and/or leave of absence, as appropriate in the circumstances.

If you have further questions on workplace policies for the vaccination of staff, contact the Ontario Dental Association (oda.ca) or your legal counsel.   

Ministry of Health Vaccine Resources