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Local dentists volunteer to give COVID-19 vaccinations

Updated: Mar. 22, 2021 at 7:11 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - As Ohio picks up the pace on coronavirus vaccinations, thousands and thousands of people are heading to clinics and pharmacies to get their shots every day.

So how are they keeping up with demand?

You may be surprised just who is volunteering to give you your shot.

Dentists, medical students, and even veterinarians are stepping up to give COVID-19 vaccinations.

The governor’s office started asking for volunteers early this year.

19 News spoke with a local dentist who’s proud to be part of the effort. Dr. Najia Usman, a board-certified endodontist, jumped at the chance to get the coronavirus vaccine early this year.

“Sadly, I also have relatives who died from COVID, and they weren’t that old. So for me, it’s not even something to think about,” she said. Dr. Usman owns Visage Endodontics in Medina.

And now she’s volunteering to give others the shot.

She was also motivated for another reason.

“It turns out the person that was administering my vaccination was a patient of mine. And I was so touched by that particular point because it just made me realize—sometimes we are—you know we’re all in this together,” Usman said.

She believes it’s important for health care professionals who can help to volunteer.

“I think it’s exactly what you would do in a war. You know everybody has a role to play,” she said. The American Dental Association says dentists have the skills to “administer vaccines and observe side effects.”

Dr. Usman said dentists have plenty of experience giving shots and they have been approved to do so by the state dental board.

“So even though it’s not our typical fare, of course, we give local injections in the mouth, and we give them probably better than anyone,” she said.

Usman believes it helps when people in the community see someone they know and trust giving the shots.

When it comes to vaccine hesitancy, she has a unique perspective.

“I’m American by citizenship, but I’m Canadian by birth,” Usman said.

“All of my Canadian friends were saying, you’re so lucky, you’re so fortunate that your government is making this available, rolling this out,” she said.

She said we’re lucky to have three different vaccines here.

“You don’t know how lucky you are to live in a country like America, that has not only created these vaccinations but has done the trials and is putting this initiative out there so we can all return to normal,” she said.

Optometrists and podiatrists can also give out the vaccine too.

The White House launched an online vaccine portal to help health care professionals find out if they’re eligible to give out the shots.

You can check it out on this website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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