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Dentists and vaccines: Some view vaccination status as a deal breaker

As vaccine mandates become more common, there's one group of healthcare professionals that locals are paying special attention to: dentists.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Some people are switching dentists over concerns about vaccination status.

"If I were to ask my dentist or any medical provider whether they were vaccinated and they said 'no' I would immediately find a new provider," said Christen Alexander.

Alexander didn't ask this of her dentist because at her visit she assumed they were vaccinated. However, she says next time she's popping that question. Others already have and some say they've switched dentists over it.

"It's important to me as a COVID survivor and a vaccinated person, as well as an aspiring nursing student, to be involved with the community," Alexander said. "In this time of COVID it's important that providers are protected themselves because if they are not they cannot efficiently do their job."

The American Dental Association ‘strongly encourages' dental professionals to be vaccinated but doesn't recommend a mandate. A June ADA survey of over 1500 people finds about 90 percent of the dentists surveyed were vaccinated.

"I can tell you that locally I have many, many, many of my friends who've been vaccinated," said Dr. Dan Gesek, an oral surgeon on the Florida Dental Association board of trustees.

In Gesek's building none of the COVID-19 precautions put in place from the beginning ever left. He says patients must wait in their cars and are brought in one at a time, masks are required, temperatures are taken, patients are given questionnaires, seats are blocked off in the waiting room, and rooms are sanitized after each visit.

"I want you to know that when you come to the dentist you're safe," Gesek said. "We take sterilization, infection control very seriously. We worry about COVID-19."

He urges not to delay your dentist visit.

"Dentistry and the care that you need can affect the rest of your body," he said. "So please, if you need the dental care, go get it."

HIPAA does not stop you from asking or telling someone your vaccination status.

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