10 November 2021

College of Optometrists response to announcement on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations

Department of Health and Social Care has not taken on board the advice of The College of Optometrists in their decision to press ahead with mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations.

We are disappointed that the Department of Health and Social Care has not taken on board the advice of The College of Optometrists - and others in the healthcare sector - in their decision to press ahead with mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for healthcare workers in CQC-regulated care within England. The College recommended that vaccine uptake would be maximised when healthcare workers are supported to make their own decisions, having been provided with clear, evidence-based information on the benefit and value of vaccines.

Ahead of this policy coming into force in April 2022, clear guidance is now needed to support its rollout. Within eye care, re-deployment to other duties may not be a feasible option and hospital eye services run the risk of losing essential workers at a time when they are already under-resourced. The Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England/Improvement need to ensure that this decision has minimal impact on patient access to sight-saving secondary eye care.

The College strongly encourages all optometrists in primary and secondary care, and their colleagues, to have all recommended vaccinations unless they are medically exempt.

Related further reading

Becky McCall asks how shifts in working practices caused by the COVID-19 pandemic might change the ophthalmic services workforce.

The College’s Clinical Editor on renewed excitement and optimism in the profession.

This study investigates the opinions of contact lens practitioners at the end of lockdown about the changes they implemented.