New Oregon bill would let dentists give vaccinations

PORTLAND, Ore. (KATU) – Dentists in Oregon are already screening patients for high blood pressure, diabetes and oral cancers. And soon, Oregon will likely be the first state in the nation to allow dentists to give vaccinations.

A year ago, even before the recent nationwide measles outbreak, Dr. Phillip Marucha, the dean of OHSU’s School of Dentistry, teamed with the Oregon Dental Association to introduce a bill to allow dentists to administer vaccines.

“Dentistry is moving more and more to be part of the primary care system of health care. And we thought vaccinations were an important service for us to offer to patients,” Dr. Marucha said. “Who gives more injections than dentists? So, we are well-prepared.”

Dr. Marucha expects Governor Kate Brown to sign the bill into law in the next day or two.

He will meet with Oregon Health Officials in two weeks to start establishing rules and protocols for dentists to follow.

“Because dentists already have the basic training for the basic biology of vaccines, it’s not a lot of extra training, it’s mostly how to handle the vaccines, how to store them,” Dr. Marucha explained.

Dr. Jason Bajuscak of City Dental said he is eager to provide this service to his 1,600 patients at his downtown clinic. “Dentists have a unique already established relationship oftentimes with their patients,” he said. “We’re pretty integral with primary care. This is another great service that we can provide for them.”

Health care providers have known for decades that good oral health often translates to good health in general. “Oral health is a big part of physical, behavioral health, overall health,” Dr. Bajuscak said. “It was certainly due in my opinion.”

Only licensed dentists will be authorized to administer vaccines after a certification process.

The Oregon Health Authority will also work with dentists to adopt rules to help them file the vaccination reports into the state immunizations registry.

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