Lauren Hope is searching for another pediatric dentist to treat her two children because their clinic won’t reveal if its staff members have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
"They called and I asked if you are fully vaxxed and not only did she say ‘I don’t know’, but they hadn’t even talked about it," said Hope about Kids Dental in the Tuxedo Park Shopping Centre.
"I worry that folks who aren’t vaxxed at this point may be holding out because they are anti-science. I really don’t want anyone to provide a health-care service to me or a member of my family if they don’t believe in vaccines.
"I cannot (take) my unvaccinated child there."
Hope said the information is essential at a time when children under 12 cannot be vaccinated. She said it should become standard for people to be able to ask about vaccination status anywhere and receive an answer.
"‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ doesn’t keep our children safe," she said, noting she will take her elder child to her dentist and is still figuring out what to do for her younger child.
"Children’s dental offices that do not have 100 per cent vaccine uptake are playing a dangerous game that my family won’t be playing."
In an emailed statement, Ernest Cholakis of Cholakis Dental, which owns Kids Dental, said they have a "very robust vaccination/mask policy" at the clinic.
"Ninety-five per cent of our staff have self-declared that they are doubly vaccinated and of course all wear full body PPE when treating patients,"said Cholakis.
"We respect employee privacy. Our dual duty is to protect our patients and staff to the fullest and observe people’s rights for confidentiality regarding their health status. It is not appropriate to publicize a person or group’s medical history. Here my comment is to trust our health authorities who are doing a tremendous job of keeping us safe with their guidelines, not innuendo posted on social media. Not only are we observing these guidelines, but exceeding them."
Cholakis said their safeguards include taking the temperature of all patients and staff, having everyone wear a mask, and putting in surgical clean air units in treatment rooms to filter the air more than 30 times an hour.
"Together as a unit we have provided an ultra safe environment for our patients and staff that has inspired the trust and confidence of our community. In conclusion, our perfect safety record speaks for itself."
Dr. Chris Cottick, president of the Manitoba Dental Association, said while they recommend dental clinic staff get vaccinated, they haven’t mandated it — yet.
"We’ve talked about this extensively with our management group," said Cottick.
"From a dental association point of view, we are encouraging everyone to be vaccinated, but we are not mandating it at this time. We are watching Shared Health and we use them as a template."
Meanwhile, the Manitoba Chiropractors Association wouldn’t say where it stands in terms of mandated or recommended vaccinations. It did say it’s making sure its members follow provincial health orders.
"Throughout the pandemic, and as part of Shared Health’s essential services network, the MCA has stood united with the provincial government in its fight to protect Manitobans," said executive director Karen Woloschuk.
"(We) will continue to mandate strict adherence by our members to all public health orders."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press.
Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
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