The Illinois State Medical Society has come out against Illinois State Dental Society-proposed legislation that would allow dentists to administer vaccinations as part of their services to the public. Upon passage of Senate Bill 1217, sponsored by Sen. William Haine (D-Alton), dentists that complete training on how to address contraindications and adverse reactions would be additional qualified providers available to administer influenza and other vaccines.
In a 2010 Illinois Physician Workforce report by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine which examined the shortage of physicians, the Illinois Hospital Association and the Illinois State Medical Society described Illinois as “in danger of being unable to meet even the most pressing health care needs.” Hence, the Illinois State Dental Society is confused as to why the medical community and Public Health Association would not embrace this offer by extremely well-trained healthcare providers to help vaccinate Illinois citizens when just over 40% now receive a vaccine during flu season.
“This year was a tragic year with 28 deaths and 368 hospitalizations from influenza,” said Dr. Barry Howell, President of the Illinois State Dental Society. “Given the severity of the recent flu season, it only makes sense to expand the public’s access to the flu vaccine as well as other immunizations, particularly in rural and underserved areas where access to a pharmacist or physician is likely to be very limited.”
Dentists are thoroughly trained in full body anatomy and infection control, and already routinely administer injections in their own practices. However, the State Medical Society asserts that this will diminish the supply of vaccines available and undermine efforts to establish the patients’ medical home. But according to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2012 more than 30 million doses of flu vaccine went unused and were likely discarded.
“Neither of these arguments makes sense when the objective with this measure is to provide another convenient option for patients to be properly immunized by trained medical providers. The bottom line is that the State Medical Society simply doesn’t want dentists giving vaccines,” added Dr. Howell.
If enacted, SB1217 would expand access and allow dentists, along with the physicians, nurses and pharmacists, to promote the importance of receiving certain immunizations to prevent serious health consequences.
About the Illinois State Medical Society: Founded by dentists in Chicago in 1865, the Illinois State Dental Society continues to write an interesting history each year through achievements that not only improve the oral health of the public, but also enhance the profession of dentistry. Past leaders in the state and local dental societies have paved the way for their successors to enjoy a bright future in organized dentistry.