Joint position on mandatory vaccinations

The College of Optometrists and the Association of British Dispensing Opticians believe all health and social care workers in primary and secondary care, and their colleagues, should have all recommended vaccinations, unless they are medically exempt. Vaccination is considered to be among the safest, most effective and evidence-based approaches to help protect people from infectious diseases.

However, we do not support mandatory vaccination as a condition of deployment in a healthcare setting. We believe that vaccine uptake will be maximized where optometrists, dispensing opticians and practice staff are supported to make their own decisions, having been provided with clear, evidence-based information on the benefit and value of vaccinations. 

The College recommends:

  • Encouraging optometrists, dispensing opticians and colleagues who are vaccine-hesitant to have the opportunity to fully understand the benefits of vaccinations, with risks explained proportionately, and given the autonomy to make an informed choice. They should be given time to discuss their concerns with their employer or occupational health team.
  • Optometrists, dispensing opticians and colleagues should have priority access to all vaccines as frontline healthcare workers. Employers should make having vaccinations as easy as possible; for example by enabling their employees to attend an appointment within working hours, or at a time and location that suits them.
  • Employers should undertake a risk assessment for those who are medically unable to be vaccinated, or remain hesitant about vaccines, and consider how to mitigate risks to patients and prioritise their safety.