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COVID-19 (April 7)

The Ontario government announced a province-wide stay-at-home order which comes into effect at 12:01 a.m. April 8. The ODHA office will remain open with minimal staff onsite to assist member dental hygienists. ODHA staff will be available by phone 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, and by email at [email protected].

Continue to remain vigilant while in practice, following IPAC and health and safety guidelines, including during break times.

As some public health units continue to schedule appointments for vaccination, clinic staff are undoubtedly experiencing increased pressure. Demonstrating patience and kindness when attending a vaccine clinic can brighten someone’s day. As a profession, let’s choose to spread positivity.

ODHA is here for you as we continue to navigate the pandemic together.

For the most current provincial updates, click here. 

The colour-coded COVID-19 Response Framework considers epidemiology, health system capacity and public health system capacity and outlines preventive measures for each sector. The goal is to have every public health unit in the “Prevent” green level. 

The Ministry of Health in Ontario updated COVID-19 Guidance for Prioritizing Health-Care Workers for COVID-19 Vaccination to include oral health professionals as primary priorities.  ODHA advocated for this on behalf of Ontario dental hygienists including sending letters to Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. Their positive response affirming dental hygienists are within the health-care worker population which are prioritized for vaccination as more vaccines are delivered to the province.

Vaccine distribution
The College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario (CDHO) has launched a COVID-19 vaccine page and will be updated regularly as individual public health unit vaccine distribution plans are released. View CDHO vaccine updates here. We encourage you to check the CDHO website often.

The vaccine is not mandatory, rather the vaccine will be made available to dental hygienists wishing to be vaccinated.  ODHA has reached out to public health units throughout the province offering assistance to facilitate communication to members about vaccine distribution. ODHA has received notification from a number of public health units across the province. Information is being immediately forwarded to members in specific catchment areas as it is received.

Public Health Units are understandably working at capacity and may not communicate to ODHA as soon as vaccine distribution begins in each region. We encourage you to visit your region’s public health unit website to see if appointment bookings are being taken for vaccination of high priority health-care workers.

ODHA will continue to send out vaccination information to members in each region as it is received from individual public health units.

Vaccine tools and resources have been updated and are posted to the Ministry of Health’s website. Highlights of changes include information for AstraZeneca and COVISHIELD COVID-19 vaccine, providing a brief overview of how the COVID-19 vaccines work and side effects. You may find this information helpful for you and your clients. 

ODHA continues to monitor the pandemic closely, participating in weekly provincial briefings. Regulated health professionals are included as essential services, and dental hygienists along with other regulated health professionals can continue to practise.

The Ontario government has released an Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution which was developed in partnership with the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force to guide further vaccine prioritization and distribution across the province. The province continues to vaccinate vulnerable populations and those who care for them through its three-phase implementation plan as additional vaccines become available.

With several risk factors driving the transmission of COVID-19, including the variants, close contact is the highest risk. Limiting these risks is critical to keeping Ontario open and safe. It’s imperative to understand the risks of gatherings in close contact in enclosed/indoor spaces to mitigate risk and prevent additional lockdown measures.

The Ontario government continues to encourage all health care practitioners to personally download and activate the COVID app and to encourage their patients and clients to do so as well.  The app is available for both IOS and android and is an integral component of controlling the pandemic.

Staying safe in practice takes more than following infection prevention and control guidelines when treating clients. Follow Public Health Ontario guidance in the workplace, including maintaining social distance and using face coverings when social distancing is a challenge. It’s equally important to remain vigilant in times before and in-between clients, when interacting with colleagues, and during break periods. It’s during these times, when not focusing on client care, an individual may potentially let their guard down and become vulnerable. ODHA wants you and your workplace to remain safe and healthy.

You can read the Ontario government’s fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19.

Public Health Ontario released a paper on COVID-19 in Dental Care Settings (July 30, 2020). Further clarification was provided in correspondence from the Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee (PIDAC).  

ODHA continues to encourage the regulatory bodies to find common ground on practice guidelines and for employers and employees to engage in discussions to facilitate a healthy and safe workplace – for all staff and patients/clients.  ODHA understands this is an incredibly stressful and anxious time for many.  ODHA is also engaged in discussions with government.

ODHA understands the anxieties you may be experiencing, and we are committed to do what is in our capacity to help Ontario dental hygienists work in a safe environment and reconnect with clients and colleagues. We continue to encourage you to use your member benefit Legal-Line for FREE legal advice.

For those who have not yet returned to work, recent changes to the Employment Insurance program may enable a transition to EI from the CERB program.  In addition, there are three new programs to assist.  They include:

Canada Recovery Benefit providing $500 weekly for 26 weeks this benefit is for individuals (including those self-employed) whose income has been reduced by at least 50%. 

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit providing $500 per week for up to two weeks for Canadians who are sick or in self-isolation due to COVID-19

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit providing $500 per week for no more than 26 weeks when someone is forced to remain at home to care for:

  • a child or family member who is ill or in quarantine, or
  • a child under 12 or family member normally at school, daycare or a care home that is closed due to COVID-19.

 

ODHA – We’re Here for You

Service to our members is of paramount importance.  ODHA has been providing ongoing email broadcasts on the coronavirus situation and through this dedicated COVID-19 page on the ODHA website. The frequency of page updates is determined by changes in the progress of the pandemic.  Resources will be added as information is provided to the ODHA office.

ODHA will continue to keep members updated through email broadcasts (which will also be posted) and current information added to the ODHA website. We encourage you to check the added resources link for new and emerging information. At a time when many will take advantage of the uncertainty, ODHA will continue to provide evidence-informed and balanced advice and information.

For those who have joined ODHA or renewed their membership for 2020/2021, we sincerely thank you for your support.  For those who have not yet joined or renewed – its not too late and we invite you to add your voice to the collective voice for advancing the profession in the province where you practice.

 

COVID-19 Email Updates

COVID-19 Additional Resources