Joining the COVID-19 vaccine drive

31 March 2021
Acuity digital

Optometrists are taking part in one of the biggest medical breakthroughs in decades, learning new skills, boosting their confidence and expanding the profession’s scope of practice. Radhika Holmström reports.

In the UK, more than 30 million people have already received a first dose of one of the COVID-19 vaccines. Although there is currently a shortage in supply of doses in the UK, this figure is still an incredible achievement so far, considering that even six months ago a vaccine for COVID-19 seemed no more than a pipe dream. A huge number of health professionals have helped drive the programme – and optometrists are among their number.

It’s a move that began in summer 2020, when the Scottish Government invited optometrists to deliver the flu vaccine. Daniel Hardiman-McCartney FCOpom, Clinical Adviser for the College, says: “This was the first time in the UK that optometrists had been brought into a vaccination programme. Scotland then led the way with training optometrists to join the COVID-19 vaccination workforce, and Wales followed suit. The aim in these two countries is to involve as many primary care practitioners as possible, who are being actively recruited and paid for this work. 

“England and Northern Ireland have taken a slightly different approach, and are using volunteers with a preference for registered healthcare practitioners, including optometrists. In all four nations, they’re doing an amazing job.” 

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Related further reading

We are pleased to announce that each nation's health system has confirmed that they support a move to the ‘Green’ phase on Tuesday 10 May 2022. From then, the College’s COVID-19 Amber phase guidance will no longer apply in all UK nations.

This outlines a COVID-19 Urgent Eyecare Service delivered from a network of optical practices, acting as urgent eye care hubs, to support the immediate and recovery phase of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read our response to GOC's call for evidence to review the Opticians Act (1989).