Optometrists invited to help deliver COVID-19 vaccines

NHS England has called for expressions of interest from optometrists in the North West willing to contribute to an upcoming vaccination programme

needle and arm
Pixabay/Katja Fuhlert
Optometrists in Cheshire and Merseyside as well as Lancashire and South Cumbria have been invited to contribute to the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine.

An email from NHS England to GOS contractors in the regions noted that it was hoped that a COVID-19 vaccine would soon be available for mass vaccinations.

Optical staff in Cheshire and Merseyside and Lancashire and South Cumbria were invited to contribute to the delivery of the vaccination programme on a sessional basis.

NHS England confirmed that training would be provided to those delivering the vaccine and discussions regarding remuneration for supporting vaccine delivery were underway.

Optometrists react to potential COVID-19 vaccine

Hospital optometrist, Andrew Tompkin, highlighted that the vaccine still needs to secure regulatory approval and there will also be logistical challenges in its delivery.

“A COVID vaccine is a welcome step forward and gives everyone hope for the future, which is psychologically very important the longer the pandemic persists,” he said.

“It is important for everyone to recognise the announcement of an effective vaccine is not an immediate solution. In the meantime we must all take great care to continue to protect ourselves and others in the wider community,” Mr Tompkin emphasised.

Lanarkshire therapeutic optometrist and dispensing optician, Dr Scott Mackie, highlighted that a group of Lanarkshire optometrists had received training by nurse practitioners on how to deliver injections – with the potential for some optometrists to assist in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines in the future.

The optical workforce in Scotland has recently been asked to play a greater role in vaccinations after flu vaccinations were not included in a new GP contract.

The four-hour training session involved presentations on administration of inactivated adult and activated child influenza vaccines, as well as practical experience delivering injections using simulated upper elbows.

Wolf Eyewear director, Tom Wolfenden, expressed his admiration for how optometrists have put their own health on the line to support the NHS by delivering emergency and essential eye care through the pandemic.

“For opticians, a vaccine would mean more confidence for patients coming into practice that the environment is safe. For us as a business it means we would be making a return to building relationships face to face which is so important to us,” he said.