Dentists ready to administer vaccines, but hurdles stand in the way ::

By Leslie Moreno, WRAL multimedia journalist Cary, N.C. — With 13 percent of adults in

— With 13 percent of adults in North Carolina fully vaccinated for coronavirus, there’s a new group of health professionals ready to join the vaccination effort: dentists.

To vaccinate more people, dentists, like Dr. Michael Riccobene, are among those who can now help.

“Did I expect to be giving a COVID vaccine? Absolutely not. But am I up for the challenge? Absolutely,” he said.

Bobby White, with the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners, said dentists are required to complete an online course provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before administering vaccines.

“The way this will be most beneficial to dentists is that they can become vaccinators through vaccination sites at the public health department,” explained White.

Dentists also have the option of being a provider where they can vaccinate in their office, but it has to be approved by the CDC. That’s what Riccobene is currently in the process of doing for five of his locations.

“If we are going through costs and the training, we want to make sure we can reach as many people,” said Riccobene.

NC dentists can soon start vaccinating those eligible for a COVID vaccine

Riccobene will have to make sure his staff is trained on how to store and handle the vaccine and how deal with allergic reactions. He’ll also have to cover all costs, which is about $1,000 per location.

Riccobene said he’s ready, but there’s a wait, and it’s a long process.

“I spoke to the dental board director. He said it could be a couple weeks before we have access to the vaccine,” he said.

White said it wasn’t likely many dental offices will administer vaccines because of the wait, costs and logistical challenges.

“There are a lot of administrative hurdles that have to be cleared, and it’s outside of the dental board. It’s between the dentist and the CDC,” said White.

Dentists are allowed to administer vaccines until May 20, according to Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order, but that deadline could be extended at any time.

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