The following is a special Covid-19 update from the optometrists and Dispensing Opticians Board (ODOB)
FROM THE ODOB BOARD (12 Oct 2021)
The Board would like to provide a brief update regarding the current Delta outbreak.
We understand there may be some frustration around the clarity of the Government guidelines regarding Alert Level 3, 3-step approach in the Auckland region. The Board is equally frustrated and over the last week has been in various discussions with the Ministry of Health, including the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer and other health regulators, not only to understand what the Government guidelines are regarding Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians, but also consideration of recognising their role in providing access to healthcare during an extend lockdown period.
The Ministry of Health has advised that they are considering the role of Allied Health and protocols required to deliver services during Alert Level 3. They have indicated that if changes occur, the following, amongst other criteria, will most likely be required:
- Telehealth and virtual appointments will still be the preferred option
- Screening for COVID-19 will be vital and a red stream/green stream system, like that used in DHBs may be considered
- There will be Infection, Prevention, Control (IPC) requirements
- Transmission precaution measures including consideration of ventilation
The Ministry of Health has acknowledged that there needs to be a balance of public safety with maintaining health and wellbeing as well as access to healthcare services. We find this response promising and are expecting further clarity and information within the next week. It is pleasing that the Ministry of Health is recognising the challenges faced by those effected by the restrictions at Alert level 3.
As you may be aware, the Government has announced that it will be compulsory for all of those in the Health and Disability Sector to be fully vaccinated by 1 December 2021, and will require their first dose by 30 October 2021. The requirement is applicable for those healthcare workers who are in a site where vulnerable patients are treated. On the face of it, it would seem that this requirement would apply to most, if not all Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians. The Board is trying to gain further information regarding this mandate so that you are aware of exactly what is required and whether it is applicable to you. We are expecting further clarity by the end of the week.
We understand the above information is vague and many questions may still be unanswered. The Board is probing and enquiring continuously to gain further clarity. Once we have further updates, these will be communicated to you.
Noho ora mai / stay well
Jayesh Chouhan, Board Chair