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COVID-19 vaccination guidance

Information for dental professionals

Should I be vaccinated?

We encourage everyone who can be vaccinated to be vaccinated, but understand there are legitimate reasons for some people not to be vaccinated. This is in keeping with the Standards for the Dental Team, which require you to provide a safe environment for patients (1.5) and to manage the risks of your own health (9.2). 

Are all dental professionals classified as health and social care workers for vaccine priority?  

Yes – all dental professionals are classified as health and social care workers. However, the vaccine rollout has been prioritised among health and social care workers according to risk from personal exposure to infection, so the vaccine has been made available to front line staff first. It may be useful to bring evidence of employment status (e.g. a letter from your practice), if relevant, to the vaccination centre should anyone challenge your status as a health and social care worker.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has issued advice on the priority groups for vaccination.  

Does the GDC require me to be vaccinated?  

There is not an absolute requirement on dental professionals to be vaccinated because there are legitimate reasons for some people not to be vaccinated. However, Standards for the Dental Team require you to provide a safe environment for patients (1.5) and to manage the risks of your own health (9.2). This normally means you should be vaccinated. If you cannot be vaccinated then you need to follow clinical guidance to protect yourself, colleagues and patients.  

Students and trainees are also normally expected to be vaccinated, but there may also be legitimate reasons for them not to be. Relevant clinical guidelines need to be followed in these circumstances to protect the student / trainee, their colleagues and patients and the public.  

If you are hesitant to take the vaccine, you need to make a judgement based on reliable evidence, just as you have a professional responsibility to engage with evidence in your clinical practice (Standards for the Dental Team - 7.1), including seeking out legitimate sources of information. 

The latest advice from the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the statement from JCVI published on the Department of Health and Social Care website on 7 April 2021: 

You cannot be compelled to take the vaccine and currently there is no requirement from the UK government for vaccination. However, as a healthcare professional you should follow clinical guidance to protect yourself, colleagues and patients.  

I've been told to work outside of my scope of practice (e.g. provide vaccinations) by my employer, what does the GDC say about that?

We support dental professionals working outside of their usual role or setting, to support the response to the pandemic. You must be appropriately trained, competent, and indemnified. Vaccines are prescription only medicines and you must be legally entitled to prescribe, supply and administer them. You should not undertake any practice unless these conditions are met.  

What should I advise patients who ask me about vaccinations?  

You should direct them towards relevant, reliable, sources of information to help them better understand the risks and benefits, for example the FAQ’s on vaccinations from the Department of Health and Social Care.

The JCVI has also provided further information on vaccines and vaccinations procedures that patients may find useful. 

I am a dental professional who does not work with medicines, am I able to become a vaccinator? 

The UK government has made changes to the law that provide a route for health professionals who do not work with medicines to become vaccinators for seasonal influenza and COVID-19. The approach provides training and supervision. You will need to be sure your indemnity arrangement sufficiently covers the activity.  

You must not work with medicines unless you are trained, competent, indemnified, and legally entitled to do so.  

I am a retired dental professional and no longer on the GDC register and I want to become a vaccinator, do I need to be registered?  

You can apply to become a vaccinator, but you will not be able to fulfil some vaccination roles unless you are registered. You can apply for restoration to the register in the usual way if you wish. 

Unlike some other healthcare regulators, we do not have the powers to establish an emergency register. There is, therefore, no rapid pathway to emergency registration for dental professionals like there currently is there is, for example, for doctors and nurses. 

We are not aware of shortages in the vaccinator workforce currently because of the number of applications that were received.  

Information for employers

Does the GDC require me to vaccinate all the dental professionals who work in my business/organisation?  

No. Some people have legitimate reasons not to be vaccinated. When this happens you and the registrant must follow relevant clinical guidance to protect the individual, colleagues and patients.  

We do not regulate employers or requirements for employment. However, we understand that employers are balancing competing priorities between the rights of employees and restoring safe dental services back to pre-pandemic levels of capacity. We encourage employers to take a supportive approach to anyone who is unable or hesitant to receive vaccinations, because we believe this is a more effective means to protect individuals, patients and colleagues, including staff who are not vaccinated.