On December 18, UF College of Dentistry care providers began receiving COVID-19 vaccines as part of UF Health’s vaccination program that started two days earlier. The initial phase of doses are being given to front-line healthcare workers who are categorized as high risk due to the nature of care they provide.
“This has been an enormously exciting and hopeful week, and the beginning of an amazing effort to eventually end to the grip that COVID-19 has held on our lives since March,” said Dean Isabel Garcia, D.D.S., M.P.H.
A group of UFCD dental clinical providers who treat or have treated known COVID-19 positive patients and deemed at high risk due to the nature of their work qualified for these first wave of vaccinations. Dentistry, with its high number of procedures that produce aerosols, creates a potentially vulnerable environment for patients and dental providers.
Roberta Pileggi, D.M.D., M.S., was among the first dentists who received the vaccine.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity to help ensure safety for my patients, my coworkers, my family and myself. It’s exciting to see the launch of a vaccine and realize that a return to normalcy is on the horizon,” Pileggi said.
Pileggi is the chair of the UF Department of Endodontics and the associate dean for Advanced & Graduate Education. She was one of the UFCD leaders who coordinated efforts to safely provide emergency dental care during March, April and May 2020 when elective dental care was suspended by the state.
Garcia said that as more vaccine supplies become available, other clinical-facing providers, including student-dentists will become eligible for vaccination.
For more information about the first vaccinations at UF Health in Gainesville, visit UF Health News.