FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Monday that the state is working aggressively to accelerate the pace of the vaccine shots in California.
To help speed up the pace, the governor will not only increase the number of distribution sites, but also expand the list of those who can distribute the vaccine.
Health workers like pharmacy techs, clinicians, and even dentists will start administering the vaccine, a move some say is necessary.
"All hands on deck - the more we can administer this vaccine, the better," says Dr. Judee Tippett-Whyte, the president of the California Dental Association.
Dentists are ready to answer that call to help get California vaccinated.
"We have the capability to help our communities by providing the vaccine so that we can get more people vaccinated quickly to try and get immunity to this disease," says Tippett-Whyte.
On Monday, in a move to address the state's shortage of health care providers who can administer COVID-19 vaccines, the Department of Consumer Affairs approved a public health emergency waiver that will allow more than 36,000 dentists across California to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to people age 16 and older.
Whyte says she believes they are qualified.
"We've been trained to give injections in the mouth which is a dark moving target with people who are very afraid, with lots of blood vessels and muscles and things that can go wrong and so certainly we should be trained to be able to give a vaccine in the arm," she says.
Dr. Ardavan Kherdpir the president of the Fresno Madera Dental Society.
"My worry is not the qualification of the dentist. It's more of a concern about how we are going to manage vaccinating a massive number of people in an efficient manner," he says.
Before being able to vaccinate, dentists would need to complete a three- to four-hour online CDC training on the shot.
But Tippett-Whyte says there are still other hurdles to work out, like with the Pfizer vaccine's cold storage.
"I think there is still a lot to be determined, but this certainly opens the door to get that process moving quickly," she says.
Right now, the state has received more than 1.2 million total doses of the vaccine. Half of those doses have been shipped out.
A meager 454,000 doses were administered as of Sunday.
That means less than 36% of the vaccines available have been distributed, and only about 1% of California's total population are actually vaccinated.
Your dentist may be able to give you a COVID-19 vaccine shot soon
Before being able to vaccinate, dentists would need to complete a 3-4 hour online CDC training on the COVID-19 shot.