Along with the quest for a vaccine comes questions about what will happen when that vaccine is available. Will dentists require team members to be vaccinated before they can work in the dental practice? That's one of the questions we asked dental human resources expert Tim Twigg of Bent Ericksen & Assoc.
"Requiring vaccines for employees is difficult," Twigg said. "People can have a variety of reasons for refusing to get them. At least two of those reasons are protected: medical conditions and religion. Therefore, exceptions will have to be made or it can create liability.
"The best practice is to encourage them, make them available, pay for the cost, and then let it go, which is similar to what has been 'best practices' in the past."
Of course, the other side to the vaccine coin involves the patients who are coming into the practice daily. Can dental practices require their customers to be vaccinated before they are allowed to sit in the dental chair?
"As for patients, it is similar in that a patient can choose to not be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons," Twigg said. "A practice certainly has the right to refuse service. However, asking or requiring some proof is essentially digging into someone's medical information, which is protected and carries some potential liability risk."
Twigg said that there are also plenty of "unknowns" surrounding these two questions given the unprecedented aspects of the current COVID-19 pandemic and how the U.S. Department of Labor might publish or enact special circumstances, requirements, regulations, etc.
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