In an extensive briefing to the medical community the MoH has published a PDF making it crystal clear to those working in all patient care roles that everyone must be treated equally – whether the patient be vaccinated against covid or not.
The document says the purpose of the statement is to address concerns from clinicians and providers regarding in person consultations with unvaccinated patients, and the issue of requiring a negative test for COVID-19 prior to a non-urgent consultation.
It tells GPs and others that: “Access to health care is a fundamental right and that an individual seeking healthcare cannot be refused care because of their beliefs. In this case an individual who believes that a vaccine is harmful cannot be refused care for that belief.”
The MoH says a practitioner’s personal beliefs should not influence that practitioner’s duty of care for any individual.
“In this case a practitioner must not allow their opinion of an individual who refuses to be vaccinated to influence the care that they offer that individual,” says the document – download it here.
“Any approach that mandates unvaccinated patients are swabbed for COVID-19 prior to planned care risks worsening access to health care for those already suffering health inequities.
“Access to testing is not available 24/7 – shift workers or those working multiple jobs will struggle toaccess a testing service (unless Rapid Antigen Testing can be provided on a sufficient scale at the time ofa planned appointment).
“Those without transport may not be able to obtain a test result in time to allow for their appointment toproceed. If the testing system is overwhelmed by such testing, symptomatic test results may be delayed, furtherrisking spread and preventable exposure to COVID-19.”
In addition, the MOH says the absolute risk of transmission will be highly dependent upon the prevalence of disease in the community.
When the rate of community spread is zero or very low, the risk of transmission from any consultation will be very low
“When the rate of community spread is zero or very low, the risk of transmission from any consultation will be very low, unless a person is known to be at higher risk because they are symptomatic or a close contact of a confirmed case,” says the MoH.
“In addition, in this situation the difference in the risk of transmission between vaccinated and unvaccinated people will be negligible.
“When the prevalence of disease in the community is high, the risk of transmission from any individual is not negligible and is likely to warrant application of mitigations for all consultations.
“When there is high COVID-19 vaccine coverage (i.e., above 80 percent of eligible people are fully vaccinated), transmission is more likely to occur from a vaccinated than an unvaccinated individual.
“Developing a separate pathway for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals will not prevent the risk of inadvertently seeing an infectious person (regardless of vaccination status) without the health care worker being aware, using appropriate personal protective equipment and/or being in an appropriate physical environment.”