The Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board (ODOB) has joined the New Zealand Association of Optometrists’ call for optometrists to be included in the government’s early vaccination Group 2, which includes high-risk frontline healthcare workers, and for suitably trained optometrists to give the vaccine to those who need it.
“Vaccination is a crucial part of the public health response to the Covid-19 pandemic. As registered health practitioners (optometrists) will have a vital role in Covid-19 vaccination programmes and in educating the public about the importance and safety of Covid-19 vaccines to ensure high participation rates,” said the ODOB in a statement.
The ODOB said it has been in touch directly with the Minster of Health (MoH) and the chief allied health professions officer to obtain clarity and share its position, but the MoH is yet to decide if optometrists will be included in Group 2.
“We understand this can be frustrating and acknowledge the uncertainty this creates. The board will continue to liaise with the Ministry of Health and once we have further information, we will communicate this to you. In the meantime, we recommend following the information communicated via the Government Covid-19 website*,” the board said, adding it encourages all registrants to have the full Covid-19 vaccination course as scheduled unless medically contraindicated.
MoH has advised the ODOB it needs more vaccinators across New Zealand and is considering allowing registered optometrists to contribute to support the country’s largest immunisation programme.
The ODOB said it supports the initiative and is encouraging optometrists holding a current annual practising certificate (APC) with no conditions to be trained to administer Covid-19 vaccines if they so wish. A formal approval is required from the director of public health. If the approval is received, the ODOB said it will update its members about the steps involved to undertake training.