'Dentists need to be that tier one': Dental professionals petition state officials to consider them in first phase of vaccinations

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- As front-line workers and other essential individuals receive the COVID-19 vaccines, dental professionals are voicing their desire to see their industry prioritized in the first phase of distribution.

Dr. Ashley Mann owns Charles Ashley Mann, DDS & Associates, a dentistry practice with branches in Cary, Garner, and Fuquay-Varina. He told ABC11 that his staffers are constantly putting their health on the line when they take care of patients.

"Creating a lot of aerosols by cleaning people's teeth, drilling, and those aerosols are what's causing the infection to spread," Mann said.



That's why the longtime dentist and others in the job field have jumped on a recent petition to ask the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to reconsider placing them back into Phase 1A.

"After first responders and ER docs and other caregivers for the elderly ... but dentists need to be in that tier one, I think," Mann said.

As of Monday evening, the online petition has received more than 900 signatures, closing in on the goal of 1,000 signatures.

According to the NCDHHS's latest vaccine distribution guidelines, dental professionals can be a part of Phase 1A if they directly work with COVID-19 patients. Their other chance is Phase 1B, where they could get a vaccine if they have two or more chronic conditions. If neither applies, they would need to wait until Phase 2.

Mann and other dental professionals say that's too long of a wait. The petition stating, "this would mean that dental professionals would only be vaccinated after every adult in the state that has 2 or more chronic conditions are vaccinated. In short, dental professionals will be vaccinated months into the vaccination process."

"You know the dental board plays a big role in connections, as well as the ADA, and they both recommend that dentists be in the top," Mann said.

Mann oversees nearly 30 staff members in total. They've had to up their lines of defense to protect staffers and patients, but Mann said he believes the option to be vaccinated will put a lot of minds at ease.

"We need some kind of clarity from the state health and as far as Wake County, in general, where we fall, so we can start getting our staff and ourselves prepared," he said.
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