John Molinari, Ph.D., author, lecturer, husband to a pediatric dentist, and father of seven, will be presenting the lecture "Respiratory Infections, Protection" at the Midwinter Meeting, along "Infection Control" and "Vaccination Recommendations for Healthcare Professionals." With current concerns about H1N1, his topic is timely.
Q: What drew you to the topic of respiratory infections in the dental office?
Dr. John Molinari: I've been a microbiologist in infectious diseases for many years. Respiratory infections are the most transmissible, and people in the dental profession are exposed to respiratory infections very routinely. A dentist wears a mask while he or she is working, but there are so many other opportunities for infection to be passed. There's a logical bond here with the professional exposure.
Q: What airborne infection causes the greatest concern for dentists this season?
JM: The flu. Both seasonal and H1N1, which has been around since April. Any pandemic strain of influenza, which crop up every few years, is more virulent. Everyone needs to be aware of the principles of normal infection.
Q: Which are the approaches to protection that dentists' offices can take that you'll be talking about in your lecture?
JM: Well, we're not just talking about the flu here, but also TB, Pertussis or the whooping cough. These are all easily transmitted. I'll be talking about how they are passed and how they work. Some of the preventative steps are, of course, vaccinations and hand washing. For dentists, masks are good. I'll be talking about he alternative use of alcohol hand rubs that everyone's carrying around in their purses and pockets these days.
But I'll also be talking about what the influenza vaccine is all about and why you need a new one each year. I'll be talking about how the vaccines are prepared, and I'll be clearing up a huge misunderstanding: You cannot get the flu from the vaccine. People hear the stories from their neighbors and their grandmothers and are afraid the vaccine will give them the flu. I had to go to extraordinary effort to convince my own mother to get the vaccine this year! She had heard from so many people that it could give you the flu--but who's the microbiologist here?
In any case, I'll be giving the people in my lecture the science and the background behind it. By the time they're finished, they're allies. They're junior microbiologists who can talk to their patients about this. People will believe what a dental hygienist or dentist tells them because they see them, they're familiar and comfortable.
I'll also be talking about TB and whooping cough as an emerging issue. When's the last time people thought about the whooping cough? We used to see this as something you were vaccinated against and never had to think of again. But we're seeing it in more adolescents and adults, and we're finding that the vaccine doesn't protect as long as they thought it did.
Q: How long have you been in the field of microbiology?
JM: I've been in the field for 44 years, including research, teaching, and as a clinical microbiologist. And I have not just focused on respiratory infections. I've researched and worked with AIDS, cancer, you name it. You have to have the clinical expertise to go along with the science.
Q: How many of these Midwinter Meetings have you attended? Do you have any tips or tricks for navigating the Meeting?
JM: I come every other year, and sometimes every year. There are just so many courses that are very, very good. If you're with other people, you'll have to split up and compare notes. It's such a traditionally good meeting as far as courses, you can't possibly see everything you want to see. And the exhibits are among the most extensive. You have to be prepared to spend a full few days there.
Q: What's your advice for visiting Chicago in February?
JM: Dress warmly! We've had everything from rain to snow to sleet.… I won't say we've had warm weather! If you want good food or entertainment in the city, you have your pick. And of course the shopping if you're into that. Chicago really has everything you could want … except the warm weather!
Q: Are you doing anything unusual over the holidays?
JM: Well, we have seven children. Three of our daughters are out of the house, and the last three are our thirteen-year-old triplets, and our oldest still at home is sixteen, so with four teenagers in the house, you can imagine! We'll be diving down to visit our families for the holidays--mine are in North Carolina and my wife Gail's are in Georgia. For Thanksgiving, with the older girls and grandchildren, we'll have sixteen family members along with four neighbors, so twenty people at the Thanksgiving table!
midwinter meeting 2010
We just received this letter from ISDS president Dr. Larry
I want to alert ISDS members to a measure taken this week by our
Governor permitting dentists to administer flu vaccines in certain
settings. As a proactive measure, Gov. Quinn signed a public health
emergency proclamation allowing the Illinois Department of Public
Health (IDPH) and the Illinois Department of Financial and
Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to permit additional certified and
licensed health care professionals to administer the H1N1 flu
The presence of H1N1 influenza has been confirmed in Illinois.
Expanding the scope of practice helps ensure a sufficient supply of
qualified health care professionals to administer the flu
During the "emergency" period, a number of health care
professionals will be able to administer the new H1N1 vaccine,
including dentists. Others are: EMTs, pharmacists, APNs and
NPs, medical residents and physician assistants.
As a dentist administering the flu vaccine, you must be working
under the direction of IEMA (Illinois Emergency Medical Agency) and
IDPH, an IEMA-certified emergency services and disaster agency, or
a certified local public health department. As a dentist, you
may NOT utilize the expanded scope of practice in any private
practice or individual setting unless you are operating under an
agreement with one of the aforementioned vaccine providers.
More information may be found on the
Governor's website, or by calling ISDS at (800) 475-4737.
Larry W. Osborne, DMD
state of illinois
With several high profile outbreaks of the H1N1 flu virus
already being reported in Illinois, dentists may be wondering how
to get vaccinated.
While the seasonal flu vaccine is readily available at doctors'
offices, clinics and pharmacies, it does not protect against H1N1.
The special H1N1 vaccine is, in fact, in short supply nationwide at
Late last week, Illinois received its first shipment of the H1N1
vaccine. These first doses are being distributed to local
departments of public health, so that those in the priority class
can be vaccinated first. The Centers for Disease Control consider
the following five groups priority for H1N1 vaccination:
- Pregnant women
- People with infants younger than 6 months of age
- Children 6 months to 4 years of age
- Children ages 5 years to 18 years of age who have chronic
- Health care personnel
Practicing dentists may be considered under the fifth category,
"health care personnel." Although dentistry is not explicitly
listed in the guidelines, the CDC confirmed to the Chicago Dental
Society that dentists may request priority vaccination through
their county or city department of health. The decision to offer
H1N1 priority vaccination to dentists is ultimately up to to the
discretion of the department of health, however.The
Illinois Department of Public Health's H1N1 team
vaccine supplies to trickle in over the coming weeks. Eventually,
the vaccine should be available at all doctor's offices, clinics
and pharmacies that registered to receive the vaccine in
In the meantime, if you would like to be considered for priority
vaccination, please contact your department of public health for
Chicago Department of Public Health
The CDPH has a
on clinics that will be offering the vaccine through
November 19; for all other questions, please call 311.Cook County
Department of Public Health
(708) 492-2000DuPage County Health
County Health Department
For Illinois dentists outside the metro area, you can locate your
county department of health through the Illinois
Department of Public Health
For dentists outside of Illinois, the federal government maintains
a seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccine
The American Dental Association also has a resource
for dentists on H1N1