Updated 24 February 2021
The COVID-19 vaccination programme is now being rolled out in the UK. This will be the largest immunisation programme in history.
- Communicating with patients
- Osteopaths’ eligibility for vaccines as front line workers
- Booking your vaccination appointment
Osteopaths are required to work within the framework of the Osteopathic Practice Standards (OPS).
In terms of the COVID-19 vaccines, relevant OPS standards include:
C6: You must be aware of your wider role as a healthcare professional to contribute to enhancing the health and wellbeing of your patients:
You should be aware of public health issues and concerns, and be able to discuss these in a balanced way with patients, or guide them to resources or to other healthcare professionals to support their decision-making regarding these.
B2: You must recognise and work within the limits of your training and competence.
A7: You must make sure your beliefs and values do not prejudice your patients’ care.
D7: You must uphold the reputation of the profession at all times through your conduct, in and out of the workplace.
This means that osteopaths should ensure that discussions with patients about vaccines are based upon credible and legitimate sources of public health information such as the NHS website or the MHRA website.
Priorities for the COVID-19 vaccination programme include healthcare workers who are working as independent providers, including in private practice.
NHS England and NHS Improvement issued vaccination of front line health and social care guidance on 7 January 2021, explaining the recommendations of the Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisation (JCVI) in relation to the vaccination of front line health and social care workers.
They explain that the JCVI recommend: ‘you should give priority to frontline staff “at high risk of acquiring infection, at high individual risk of developing serious disease, or at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable persons or other staff in a healthcare environment”. This includes but is not limited to:
- staff working on the vaccination programme
- staff who have frequent face-to-face contact with patients and who are directly involved in patient care in either secondary or primary care, mental health, urgent and emergency care and community settings
- those working in independent, voluntary and non-standard healthcare settings such as hospices, and community-based mental health or addiction services’
Osteopaths are regulated health professionals and, in England, allied health professionals. Osteopaths working within the independent sector and NHS are eligible for the vaccination as front line health and social care workers if they have ‘frequent face to face contact with patients and … are directly involved in patient care’.
Following clarification sought by the GOsC, it has been confirmed that osteopaths in Northern Ireland are able to access the COVID-19 vaccine as front line health practitioners. Scotland and Wales are expected to follow suit shortly.
To establish whether a person is an osteopath or not, you can confirm their registration at: osteopathy.org.uk/register-search
England: Osteopaths based in England are advised to look on the website of your local hospital hub (this can be local to home or work) for information about the local booking process for vaccinations and, if not available, to contact your hospital hub’s switchboard for more details.
Northern Ireland: We have contacted all osteopaths in Northern Ireland to provide information on how they can book their appointment at a vaccination centre.
Information on booking a vaccination appointment in Scotland and Wales is expected to follow.
You might be interested to read this article: Opposing Vaccine Hesitancy During the Covid-19 Pandemic, which was published in the International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine on 18 February 2021.