(WSVN) - Dentists take a big risk to provide care during COVID. Patients are required to take their mask off, but dentists cannot get the vaccine. Is that legal? Plus, can you now be evicted? The answers to these questions and others in tonight’s Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Michelle Segal is a dentist. In a way, it’s a family tradition.

Dr. Michelle Segal: “I love what I do. My father was a dentist, and I’ve seen some changes, but not drastic like this.”

You don’t have to be a doctor to know the drastic changes the coronavirus has unleashed on the medical field.

Dr. Michelle Segal: “It’s definitely been a challenging time. From the moment that we greet the patient, we’re wearing two masks: one is an N95, and then another Level 3 over that. This is something we have to do to protect ourselves, we have to protect our families, and of course, our patients as well.”

In one respect, COVID has made it even tougher for your dentist than your general physician.

Dr. Michelle Segal: “In our profession, we actually have to tell you to remove your mask in order for us to perform something for your health.”

So when Florida announced frontline health care workers would be the first to get the vaccine, Michelle was excited … till she tried to get the vaccine.

Dr. Michelle Segal: “They said, ‘No, I’m sorry, but dentists aren’t first. It’s only the frontline workers that are in the hospital.'”

Michelle then tried to reason with the county and state, even showing proof she’s a licensed dentist.

Dr. Michelle Segal: “I said, ‘Well, I’m a dentist. I mean, I tell patients to take their mask off,’ and they said no.”

Michelle then discovered dentists in other states were able to get the vaccine just like other healthcare workers, but not in Florida.

Dr. Michelle Segal: “I don’t know what happened, I don’t know who, where the ball was dropped, but this needs to be fixed. I’m very frustrated. I’m extremely frustrated.”

Well, Howard, the governor said frontline health care workers would be some of the first people to get the vaccine. Does a dentist fall into that category?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Yes, they do, and they should get the shot, but the problem is, the state’s original plan only took care of medical personnel affiliated with hospitals, and that does not include most dentists and their staff.

Does that mean they’re out of luck?

Howard Finkelstein: “Hopefully not. In the past few days, the state has set up a website to pre-register to get an appointment for all frontline health care workers, and if you don’t have a computer, the state and each county has a phone number to make an appointment so those heath care workers and the elderly. The link to both are at WSVN.com under this Help Me Howard story.”

Let’s hope those new sites can deliver the vaccine.

We’re hearing from a lot of elderly people who got to their vaccine appointment only to find out it was cancelled. Does the agency that cancels it have to reschedule it for them?

Howard Finkelstein: “No. If they are kind they can and will do it for you, but legally, they do not have to.”

Howard, what about the eviction moratorium? Can renters be evicted now?

Howard Finkelstein: “No. They cannot be evicted till the end of March if the tenant was affected by the coronavirus and fills out the affidavit to explain that. The form to do that is also at WSVN.com under this Help Me Howard story.”

Michelle registered at the new state website, and now she waits to be notified when she can get her vaccine. Hopefully, she won’t have to wait too long.

Dr. Michelle Segal: “We are in the front lines, and we should be able to have that access to be able to get vaccinated.”

The vaccine rollout reminds me of the COVID test rollout — a little on the chaotic side — but the testing has worked out, and it probably will with the vaccine also.

Howard Finkelstein: “If you have a question for us or a problem you need solved, let us know. 2021 has to be better than 2020, and we want to help make it that way for you also.”

State Pre-Registration Website

There is also a phone number for people without a computer:
Statewide: 866-201-7037
Miami-Dade County: 888-499-0840 or TTY 888-256-8918
Broward County: 866-201-6313 or TTY 844-252-2003
Palm Beach County: 866-201-6754 or TTY 833-476-1532

Affidavit to Block Evictions

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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