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Vaccinations not yet on table for health care workers like dentists

Posted at 6:16 PM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 18:17:55-05

CINCINNATI — As vaccinations for COVID-19 continue to roll out nationwide, front-line health care workers and those working or living in congregate care settings have remained a top priority. Lower down on the list are health care workers like dentists.

"We're treating patients all the time and we're in their face basically," said Dr. Steve Reubel, an oral surgeon in Cincinnati.

Reubel said he's frustrated that dental offices aren't higher on the list for vaccinations, considering the obvious risks associated with their trade. He's been an oral surgeon in Cincinnati for nearly 40 years and said the risk for his staff is significant.

For weeks, he said he's called the Hamilton County Public Health Department to find out when and where he and his staff can get the vaccine, with no answers.

"All these politicians who are saying 'we got to protect our health care workers' and they protect themselves first and I'm sitting here twiddling my thumbs wondering when we are going to do it," he said.

Hamilton County Public Health officials said dentists are coming up on the priority list, in priority six, just behind home health care providers.

"We are still in the first five priorities," a spokesperson with the department wrote in a statement. "As more vaccines become available, we move down the priority list. We will reach out to dental services when the vaccine is available for their priority designation."

A spokesperson for Governor Mike DeWine said the state is still focusing on age right now, because those over 65 are at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19. The state is still roughly one week away from knowing when it will finish with the first group and officials said the priority list can still change.

Reubel suggests the county create a hotline to call that updates the public on where the region stands in the vaccine list.

"At least give us some idea of what's going on," he said.