PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Flu season is here, and in Oregon, dentists are allowed to give patients flu vaccines.
Oregon legislators passed House Bill 2220 last year with the support of the Oregon Dental Association. It allows dentists to give patients flu shots after they've gotten the proper training and certification.
FOX 12 talked to doctor Jim Smith, a dentist with Kaiser Permanente.
Smith says about 25 Kaiser Permanente dentists have gone through the necessary training, and they'll be ready to give patients the flu shot starting next week.
He says dentists, nurses, pharmacists, and doctors each play a role in an overall health care team, and they need to work together to keep their patients healthy.
But at the simplest level, he says convenience is essential.
"The idea is that we want to do things conveniently, safely, and maintain the health of patients. And so it's oftentimes convenient if they're already in the dental office for treatment to provide the vaccinations that they need so that that avoids having to make another trip," he said. "People are busy, and they don't like making multiple visits to health care facilities, so if we can expedite that and make things easier for them and provide it safely and effectively, that's what we want to do."
Dr. Smith also tells FOX 12 that this could be extremely helpful when a COVID-19 vaccine is released because it would make it easier for more patients to get it.
For now, this only applies to patients age 12 and older, but that could change in the future.
And while two other states allow dentists to give flu shots, Oregon is the only one that allows them to give other vaccinations, so health officials around the country will likely be watching our progress.
Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.