Templates, risk assessments and resources2021-02-22T16:41:48+00:00
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COVID-19 Vaccination

We are strongly encouraging all BIOS members in patient-facing roles who are offered a COVID-19 vaccine to take it if they can. Large-scale immunisation is a vital step in the effort to control the COVID-19 pandemic and save lives.

Catching COVID-19 can be serious and may lead to long term complications. These are more common in older staff or those with underlying clinical risk factors.

Protect those around you. You can have COVID-19 without any symptoms and pass it on to family, friends, colleagues and patients, many of whom may be at increased risk from coronavirus. Being healthy doesn’t reduce your risk of catching COVID-19 or passing it on.

Learn more about the vaccines and why is it so important for frontline healthcare workers.

[Updated 12 February 2021]

If you’re a frontline worker, you are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 at work. Orthoptists, orthoptic support workers and technicians, and orthoptic students working directly with patients are at much higher risk of repeated exposure to the infection. The government’s official COVID-19 guidance, known as the COVID-19 green book, makes clear that anyone working in a frontline health or care role, regardless of who for or in what capacity, is eligible for a vaccine:

Staff involved in direct patient care […] should also include those working in independent, voluntary and non-standard healthcare settings such as hospices, and community-based mental health or addiction services. Temporary staff, including those working in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, students, trainees and volunteers who are working with patients must also be included.”

Recent Government advice makes it clear that hospital vaccination hubs are expected to be the default provider of vaccines to all health and care staff, including private and the third sector, as well as bank or temporary staff. Government guidance is being developed to clarify how private practitioners can access the vaccine and demonstrate their eligibility.

Approaches in each nation

  • In England all eligible frontline health or social care workers can now book their vaccine through the National Booking Service. You are advised to try online booking first but if this is not possible, they can phone 119 free of charge, 7am to 11pm, 7 days a week.
  • In Northern Ireland, information has been provided on how you can access a vaccine if working in private practice that should have been communicated to you. Please contact us if you have not received such a notification and we can pass on a link.
  • In Scotland a letter has been circulated with details on how you can contact your local health board to arrange a vaccine. Although dietitians are not specifically mentioned, you are eligible for a vaccine if you work in a patient-facing role.
  • In Wales independent and private frontline staff will be vaccinated alongside NHS colleagues. Health boards should be in touch with you directly, and are using HCPC registration lists to make contact. Please let us know if you feel you have been missed.

The role of vaccinator can be undertaken by anyone who can work legally under a Patient Group Direction (PGD), which includes orthoptists.

While this is outside the scope of an orthoptist, and therefore not covered by BIOS insurance, any orthoptist undertaking this procedure would be covered by their Trust or Board indemnity and support from the HCPC, so long as the correct PGD was in place and they are trained and given sufficient resources to do this task safely. The HCPC have released statements to say they understand practitioners may be taken out of scope of practice to support the pandemic.

The HCPC has published advice for registrants on how they can support the COVID-19 vaccination programme over the four countries of the UK. Read Vaccinations: what you need to know.