CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Chesterfield dental center is not just filling cavities anymore — they are also filling a desperate gap in the county’s vaccination rollout.
Staff at the Midlothian Dental Center administered COVID-19 vaccines right out of their office.
Founder Dr. Scott Gore told 8News a nearby pharmacy had hundreds of available doses but didn’t have the space or staff to quickly administer them.
Medical professionals at Midlothian Dental Center office got right to work. They turned their break room into a vaccination station last weekend.
“We have a great spot to do it, you have the vaccine,” he daid. “Let’s partner, let’s help people.”
Dr. Gore said he and hundreds of other dentists, dental hygienist’s and other staff were still waiting for the first vaccine dose last week. He said in late December, VDH contacted his office and told him how to sign up for a vaccine. They signed up. Then, he said, he never heard back.
Thousands of Virginians like him, who are categorized in the 1a vaccination group, were already given their first doses weeks ago. Many already have both doses. In fact, several localities already moved into phase 1b this week, which largely includes first responders and school staff.
Last weekend, he said more than 400 medical workers were vaccinated inside his dental office.
“Getting people in and out in a safe environment, in a COVID safe environment, is kind of what we do already,” Dr. Gore said. “So it just seemed to make sense.”
He added there were doses left over and several dozen more people ages 65 and older also got their first shots.
“People were saying things like oh my gosh it’s Christmas morning,” Gore said. “I have never had so much appreciation in my life for anything I have ever done.”
In total, 560 people were vaccinated in just five hours.
Gore said the vaccines were distributed by qualified medical staff, including his own daughter. A special moment was when his daughter vaccinated her grandmother and grandfather.
The dentist said his office wants to keep helping and planned another clinic to vaccinate Virginia State Police officers this upcoming weekend. Those plans were stopped in their tracks on Thursday.
“Just this morning, I got a text from a pharmacist and he has no vaccines,” Dr. Gore said. A vaccine shortage is one gap they can’t fill.
“It’s very disappointing,” he said. “I felt like we had a great system. We were able to help a lot of people in a safe environment, and now we don’t have the vaccine.”
Dr. Gore blames the federal government for having “really no plan” to get the vaccine into people’s arms.
“We have people ready to go as soon as we have more vaccines,” he said.
This is not the first shortage reported in the county. Chesterfield seems to be facing shortages that neighboring Richmond and Henrico are not.
Thousands of Chesterfield county teachers and staff were told they would be vaccinated this week. On Tuesday, that changed. The county announced they were only given 750 vaccines after they ordered several thousand.
On Wednesday and Thursday, hundreds of Henrico and Richmond school staff members got their first doses. The teachers heading back into Chesterfield’s classrooms on February 1 now don’t know when they will get a first dose.
If you own a space that could work for a mass vaccination clinic, the doctor urges you to check with local pharmacies and health departments to see if your space can be of good use.
“I encourage anybody and everybody to open up their space and partner with their local pharmacist and help as much as they can,” he said. “It will probably be one of the more rewarding things they’ll ever do.”