HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL DENTAL COMMITTEE
The LDC is aware that the current availability of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 Vaccine BNT162b2 and the newly approved AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine are subject to the provisional guidance released in December 2020 Green Book Chapter 14a pages 1 to 19.
Within Chapter 14a on page 10 it clearly states that staff who have face-to-face contact with patients and who are directly involved in patient care in either secondary or primary care that includes dentists are designated as frontline healthcare staff irrespective of whether they work in the NHS or independently.
As such all dentists and their teams are in Priority group 2
Currently, there is much confusion and concern around the availability of the Pfizer vaccine for frontline dental teams but there have already been examples of dentists and their teams accessing vaccination from late December 2020 where there has been a surplus of the Pfizer vaccine and when all those contacted within Priority Group 1 have not been sufficient in numbers to take advantage of the stored defrosted vaccine (5 days max storage).
Apparently, these vaccinations seem to be based on an ad hoc contact mechanism, usually through local/personal network/PCN/CCG Standby List arrangements and/or local websites eg York.
General Medical Practices that are recognised vaccination centres are directed to use surplus vaccine for the benefit of those in priority Group 2.
Currently, there is no published pathway that adequately describes the mode of contact from GP surgeries/official vaccination sites and this LDC is urging NHSE and other representative organisations to give clear guidance on this very important issue. We believe that the Wessex LMC will publish more information in the very near future.
There will be those members of dental teams who are considered to be extremely vulnerable (Priority Group 4) and those who are defined as ‘at risk’ (priority group 6) and it is essential that these individuals contact their GP practices to make them aware of their frontline status. Many dentists will be contacted by their GP practices but unfortunately, many of these GP practices will be unaware of their frontline status.
In other regions such as SE London, the CCG has contacted the London LDC Confederation and provided a Microsoft form that has been sent out to dental practices for completion to identify dental team members that have volunteered to be vaccinated. In other regions/areas this mode of contact has been via the commissioners on a Dear Colleague letter basis.
In the interim the LDC advises that you and your teams should contact your General Medical Practice to make them aware of your frontline status so that they can update their database.
There have been several examples of dental team members choosing to opt out from the vaccination programme for various reasons eg breastfeeding mothers and pregnancy.
We anticipate that dental teams will be more likely receive the AstraZeneca vaccine early in the New Year but this, as yet, has not been confirmed.
BDA have repeatedly requested reassurance from OCDO and NHSE but apart from reference to the Green Book no details of the rollout have been forthcoming from either organisation.
As you are aware, the CDO has deemed that current National SOP guidance is adequate to protect dental teams when wearing appropriate PPE etc but inevitably, as we all enter higher restrictive tiers, dental teams will suffer from higher numbers of infections within their out of surgery contacts, more frequent periods of self-isolation, which makes prompt vaccination a priority.
Clearly, the H&IOW LDC is very concerned that its members and their staff are adequately protected and especially as new strains of the virus exhibit higher levels of infectivity.
It is somewhat perverse that an unacceptably high percentage target driven Q4 of the contract takes no account of the vaccination logistics and tier 4 complications that dental practice teams face and clearly these factors will make the targets even more difficult to achieve.
This briefing notice will be updated as the situation becomes clearer and more information becomes available.
Happy New Year