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Can I ask if my medical professional has been vaccinated?

Is it OK to ask if a medical service provider’s staff has been Vaccinated before making an appointment for an office visit?

Five months ago, a reader we’re calling Keith visited his dentist for the first time in a year. He had skipped his regular six-month teeth cleaning because of the pandemic, but after he received his second dose of the COVID vaccine, he felt more comfortable going to his dentist’s office. The receptionist made clear that face masks had to be worn at all times except when the patient was in the dentist’s chair. Keith was all set to go.

Keith had been working remotely and, aside from his immediate family and customers and clerks who happened to be at the grocery store when he was, he hadn’t been in close physical contact with other people. He was a bit nervous about going to the dentist. Nevertheless, he persisted.

When he arrived, he was somewhat reassured that the dentist’s staff had taken precautions to try to make the office as safe as possible for everyone. Partitions had been installed in front of the receptionist. Hand sanitizer was available on the front desk. Chairs in the waiting area were widely set apart. Everyone was wearing a mask.

The dentist greeted Keith and they caught up a bit on both his dental health and their respective families. The dental Hygienist was setting up to begin the exam and teeth cleaning.

Keith knew the hygienist from previous visits. As is their custom, they chatted while she worked. She did most of the chatting because Keith’s mouth was occupied with a dental pick or a motorized toothbrush.

The topic of vaccinations came up. Keith had become eligible to receive his fairly late in his state’s rollout based on age. He knew the hygienist was younger than he is so he assumed she’d been eligible well before him, which she confirmed she had.

But, she said, she still hadn’t gone to receive the vaccination.

“Why not?” Keith said he asked.

“I’m too nervous,” she replied.

Keith was surprised and a bit disappointed to learn that his hygienist had not been vaccinated and no one had told him as much when he made his appointment. Granted, he didn’t ask if everyone had been vaccinated. “But it’s a medical office,” he wrote. “Wouldn’t it have been a fair assumption that the staff had gotten vaccinated if they could?”

Keith is coming up on his next six-month teeth cleaning appointment. He wrote to ask if there is anything wrong with him calling to ask the dentist if the hygienist who will be working on his teeth has been vaccinated.

Unless we work someplace where everyone is required to show proof of vaccination, it is not safe to assume we know who has and who hasn’t been vaccinated. If Keith would feel safe knowing that his hygienist has been vaccinated, the right thing is indeed for him to call and ask. If he is told that she has not been vaccinated, he can ask if another hygienist who has been vaccinated can work on his teeth instead. If they refuse to give him the information, Keith might be wise to start shopping around for a new dentist.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Simple Art of Business Etiquette: How to Rise to the Top by Playing Nice, is a senior lecturer in public policy and director of the communications program at Harvard's Kennedy School. He is also the administrator of, a blog focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need to have answered? Send them to [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter @jseglin.


This post first appeared on The Right Thing, please read the originial post: here

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Can I ask if my medical professional has been vaccinated?


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