UPDATE (1/29/21 – 3:40 p.m.): The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has issued a proclamation allowing licensed dentists who wish to volunteer to administer COVID-19 vaccines as part of a mass vaccination effort may do so after completing one our of training through the Just in Time Training Program. Previously, they needed at least four hours of training to administer the vaccines.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A viewer worried about the vaccine delays reached out to CBS 2 about a legislative hurdle that could further jam up distribution. There are 10,000 dentists in Illinois, but state guidelines leave many unable to administer the vaccine, despite being more than qualified.

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CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory looks into the holdup.

A trip to the dentist could soon mean more than whiter teeth and a lecture on flossing. Now that the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed across the country, many people are eager to get the injection, and dentists like John Milgram are eager to deliver.

“This is the number one health crisis we’ve ever seen in our lives, and so as a dentist, as a healthcare provider, I’m anxious to help,” said Milgram, who is also a member of the Chicago Dental Society.

But Milgram can’t pitch in just yet.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issued an Emergency Proclamation in December 2020, which requires dentists to take a four-hour training on administering injections. Part of the training is in-person.

Milgram said the extensive injection training isn’t necessary.

“We’re more than capable of giving injections. I’ve probably given 20 different people injections today,” he said. “Dentists probably give more shots than any other health care profession.”

Dave Marsh, director of governmental affairs at the Illinois State Dental Society, agreed.

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“We were surprised to see this Emergency Proclamation,” he said.

Marsh is working with the state to create a one-hour online program so dentists can administer the vaccine at public health sites.

“With a quick change in the statute or the regulation that will allow them to do this, we can put hundreds if not thousands of dentists on the front line and be able to administer vaccines,” he said.

As more people become eligible to receive the vaccine, Marsh sees the role of dentists as essential.

“Supply is going to reach a point where you’re going to have a lot of vaccines available, and you’re going to have a lot of demand by patients, and you’re not going to have the providers trained to actually put the shots in the arms,” he said.

Milgram said dentists can be advocates for the vaccine too.

“I have that same talk I have with everybody about the vaccine: Why wouldn’t you get the vaccination? Have you ever met anybody that had COVID? It’s a terrible thing,” he said.

Once the state gives the green light for dentists to vaccinate, Milgram hopes to encourage patients who were less eager to take it initially to reconsider during their routine cleaning appointments.

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Another obstacle Chicgaoland dentists face is significant delays in getting the COVID-19 vaccine themselves, which is required to administer the vaccine.

Lauren Victory