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Should dental professionals get vaccinated for COVID-19?

Association releases information resource on available data, timeframe on vaccine trials

October 06, 2020

By Kimber Solana

When a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available, the choice to be vaccinated for the SARS-CoV-2 virus remains a personal decision.

Dental professionals should balance concerns on the likelihood of infection, the wellbeing of others and the yet unknown risks associated with the vaccine, according to “Should I be Vaccinated for COVID-19?” — an informational resource to dental professionals the Association published Oct. 6. It outlines the available data and timeframe on ongoing clinical trials dentists, dental hygienists and chairside assistants should consider when making the decision.
   
As of Oct. 3, no vaccine currently undergoing phase 3 clinical trials has received emergency use authorization approval.
   
However, once a vaccine has been approved, dental professionals and other health care workers appear to be prioritized to be eligible to receive it in the first wave of distribution, according to a vaccine distribution framework released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine during an Oct. 2 webinar.
   
Since dentists and hygienists are included in the framework for receiving the initial supply of approved, available vaccines, each dental professional will need to decide whether or not to receive the vaccine.
   
According to the informational resource, the overall, typical timeframe involved in approving a vaccine is several years that includes exploratory work, pre-clinical studies, clinical trials and regulatory review. However, Operation Warp Speed has condensed this timeframe to one year by skipping the exploratory work and pre-clinical studies and utilizing the emergency use authorization mechanism.
   
The emergency use authorization could be granted based on the vaccine’s short-term ability to reduce the risk of severity of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus by 50%.
   
As of October, several potential vaccines have completed phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials. The phase 3 trials, involving tens of thousands of participants, are currently underway. It determines the safety and efficacy of the potential vaccine, whether or not there are adverse effects in such a large, diverse group of people.

It also looks at the longevity of the immune response triggered by the tested vaccine.
   
Phase 4 trials are optional studies that drug companies may conduct after a vaccine is released.
   
According to the information resource, the Association will continue to monitor and provide updates on the progress of the clinical trials as well as the government’s plans to distribute a vaccine once approved.
   
To view the complete information resource, click here.