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Health

Maine’s vaccine rule for health care workers will no longer apply to dental practices

Maine's COVID-19 vaccination requirement for health care workers no longer includes emergency medical service providers or dental practices.

However, EMS workers will still be covered under a vaccine requirement from another state agency, the state board of EMS.

EMS board chair Brent Libby says that's because the board has its own emergency rule that requires workers who provide direct patient care to get the vaccine. That expires on Nov. 22, the same day the board will hold the first of two public hearings on a final vaccine rule.

"The final rule is similar to the emergency rule. It does include other vaccinations like the flu, measles, mumps, rubella, COVID-19, similar to what the CDC has required of other healthcare workers," Libby says.

Libby says the mandate worsened the shortage of EMS workers, some of whom quit because they did not want to get immunized.

The Mills Administration issued the final rule this week and said that dental practices were removed because they haven't had any outbreaks.

Kathy Ridley of the Maine Dental Association says dental practices were also excluded because they're regulated by a board, not the state's Department of Health and Human Services.

"Our board did adopt a policy in the summer that we strongly support that all health care workers should be vaccinated against COVID-19," Riley says.

Ridley says dentists were also concerned that the state vaccine mandate would make a workforce shortage even worse.