California health care workers and other medical providers on the frontlines will be among the first to receive the initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The California Department of Public Health said the state will receive 327,000 doses during the first-phase distribution, which will include dental professionals and other workers caring for patients. The first shipment of the vaccine is expected to arrive in December.

Dental health professionals are a part of a selected group that will first get the vaccine, a measure that underscores the importance of dental health during the pandemic.

On December 5, the health department issued guidelines on phase 1 allocation recommendations for the order of when essential health care workers should be given the vaccine. In phase 1a, the public health department recommends that the vaccine first go to people at risk of exposure through their line of work or role as a medical health professional, including individuals employed by long-term care facilities.

The allocation guidelines cover professionals who are at risk of exposure but do not conduct clinical work. This phase 1a group includes workers in environmental services, patient transportation, or interpretation, and residents of skilled nurturing and assisted living facilities.

The rankings are organized in three tiers, with hospital staff in the first, community clinicians in the second and dentistry in the third tier. This prioritization will go into effect if there aren’t enough doses for all of those within the group.

Dental workers have been placed in the third tier in part because of the safety measures they have implemented within the office setting, which poses a lower comparative risk to other health practices.

For more information, read CDPH Allocation Guidelines for COVID-19 Vaccine During Phase 1A Recommendations here.

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