Denver Health offers childhood vaccinations during dental visits

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DENVER (KDVR) – When Prince Budathoki, 11, went to his biannual dental appointment at the Denver Health Family Health Center in Montbello, he also received his second dose of the HPV vaccine while he was sitting in the dental chair.

Dentists and hygienists are not able to give vaccinations, but this center offers integrated care with medical and dental services. So a medical assistant can walk into the dental office and give the shot.

It started as a pilot program during the pandemic when vaccination rates plummeted. Hoping to improve vaccination rates, Denver health providers began offering shots at dental visits and dispensed 122 additional shots over a six-month period.

The program used a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration. The pilot project has been so successful at the Montbello location that Denver Health will soon be expanding it to its other dental practices.

“It’s going so well that in fact Denver Health, in most of its clinics, is starting to make this project standard work,” said Dr. Jessica Jack, a pediatrician at Denver Health and one of the leaders of the project.

She added that after reaching the age of 9, some children will see their dentist more than their doctor.

“So they will see their dentist every six months, whereas they only see their doctor once a year. So this is a great opportunity to identify children who are overdue for vaccines at that time, and bring them to the clinic and have them vaccinated, rather than requiring additional appointments,” she said.

With integrated systems, the computer signals when a young patient is due for their HPV vaccine, and staff can offer the vaccine to the family.

“The HPV vaccine is what will start the process, and then if the patient agrees, we’ll offer all the vaccines the patient is due for at the same time,” Jack said.

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