Gov. Cooper authorizes dentists to help with vaccination efforts

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced Executive Order #193 on Tuesday, Feb. 9, formally incorporating dentists into the COVID-19 vaccine workforce.

“Many dentists across our state are ready and willing to help do their part in addressing this pandemic,” said Dr. Zachary Brian, director of the North Carolina Oral Health Collaborative (NCOHC), a program of the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation (FHLI). “Getting the vaccine to as many people, as quickly and safely as possible, is something dentists are uniquely positioned to do.”

Cooper’s executive order allows a broad range of health care professionals to join the vaccination workforce, extending measures the administration has put in place to combat the pandemic.

With Cooper’s executive order, North Carolina joins more than 20 states in including dentists in their COVID-19 vaccination workforces, according to the American Dental Association.

Dr. Matt Corbin, owner of Corbin Dental in Franklin, said that he has been in contact with Macon County Emergency Management Director Warren Cabe and is ready to assist the county in distributing the COVID19 vaccine.

While the executive order allows dentists to administer the vaccine, it doesn’t change the issue with a lack of supply across the state, which is why rather than hosting a vaccine clinic at the dental office, Dr. Corbin is partnering with the county to administer the vaccine through current county vaccination clinics.

“The health department and county officials are rockstars and have been working so diligently. If dentists can help aid their efforts, I’d like to help wherever they have a need,” said Dr. Corbin. “Right now we have a supply issue with this vaccine, so we don’t plan to deliver vaccines at our dental clinic unless the county reaches out with a need for additional locations.”

Corbin was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force after completing dental school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015. He completed a one-year residency program followed by a three-year assignment to serve in a remote location in Alaska before moving back to Franklin in July 2019.

“Being able to help my hometown community during this pandemic in ways outside of the normal scope of my profession is something I am excited about,” said Dr. Corbin. “So many have been adversely affected by the pandemic and we all want to get on the other side of it, so I am happy to be able to be a small part in expediting that process.”

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, NCOHC identified dentists as a valuable component of an interdisciplinary approach to controlling the spread of the virus.

On the local front, Public Information Officer Emily Ritter with Macon County Public Health sent out an email on Wednesday saying, “Due to the inclement weather that has impacted  our country in the past 48 hours, shipments of first dose COVID-19 vaccine have been delayed nationwide. We are currently reaching out to those individuals who had first dose appointments [this week] to reschedule. … We will update the public as soon as we have more information.”