Mandatory vaccinations for frontline health and care staff
Consultation about frontline health staff vaccination policy must include optometry
The Government has launched a consultation on proposals for mandating COVID-19 and flu vaccinations for frontline health and social care workers in England.
Responding to the announcement, Adam Sampson, Chief Executive of the Association of Optometrists said: “During the pandemic our members have shown time and time again the vital role they play providing face-to-face patient care. As such, any proposal that considers whether frontline staff in health and wider care settings in England should be required to have COVID-19 and flu vaccines must include optometry.
“Under the current proposal, we understand that hospital optometrists will be required to have the COVID-19 vaccination, if they haven’t already, and we will be looking at the detail of the proposal to understand how this will be extended to optometry in the community. As a part of the primary healthcare family, all optical staff were made a priority group for early vaccination for COVID-19, so it is likely that if the proposal is supported, there will be a case to support the roll-out to those providing face-to-face eye care in the community as well.”
“We know the majority of our members asked for the same protections as frontline healthcare staff including access to PPE, altered working conditions and early access to the vaccine, and a large majority of the UK adult population have already chosen to be vaccinated. While encouraging uptake of the vaccination is the best way of protecting people, particularly the vulnerable, from COVID-19, we also accept that there are disparate views, and the implementation of any decision that makes vaccination a condition of deployment will need to be handled with sensitivity. We will be looking to hear from all members to help inform our response.”
The consultation follows a recent decision that will require professionals entering care homes to have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by 11 November, unless exempt.
Launched on 9 September, the consultation runs for six weeks. Staff, healthcare providers, stakeholders and patients are encouraged to participate. The AOP will provide a response, following consultation with all members.