Roscommon optometrist leads colleagues in vaccination drive

Optometrists have joined Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination drive after members delivered the profession’s first jabs to the public recently, and Roscommon optometrist, John Weldon, is leading the charge.

The Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI) President was the one of the first optometrists in Ireland to deliver a Covid-19 injection last weekend at the Aviva mass vaccination centre.

Mr. Weldon, who is based in East Galway and with practices in Roscommon town and Gort, said this was a positive step for optometrists and urged members of the profession to complete the relevant training and join the public health response.

The eye-care specialists are one of a number of additional healthcare professions approved by the HSE to provide Covid-19 vaccinations, subject to completing HSE approved training.

There are almost 700 AOI members in Ireland, and Mr. Weldon said approximately 10% have now been trained, and a further 10% are in the process of completing the certification process.

“Our profession is committed to supporting public vaccination that is safe and delivered to our citizens as soon as possible. This also opens the door for optometrists to play a greater role in public vaccination programmes into the future,” he said.

“If booster vaccinations for Covid-19 variants become a regular part of life like the seasonal flu vaccination, AOI envisages a future when people can receive these vaccinations at their local certified optometrist, similar to at a GP practice or pharmacist.

“This is an example of the many things optometrists can provide to improve public health. With approval from the HSE, we can also carry out greater prescribing and help with the care of chronic eye conditions in the community working with our hospitals. This would greatly help to reduce our large eye-care waiting lists”.