Hairdressers and others working in the ‘close contact’ industry have a moral duty to disclose to clients whether they have chosen not to be vaccinated against Covid, a Scottish academic has suggested.
It follows a case where a client filed a complaint against an osteopath who did not notify him prior to his treatment that he had not been vaccinated.
The complaint was forwarded to lawyers for the osteopath’s insurance broker.
The conclusion was that while the osteopath had the right to refuse vaccination, the client also had the right to make an informed decision regarding their own health and should have been informed before treatment that the osteopath had not been doubly vaccinated. .
There is no legal obligation for workers to notify employers or customers if they have not been immune to Covid or any other virus.
The General Council of Massage Therapies (GCMT), which raised the case, said it was not clear what the outcome was.
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He informed his members that the best practice, according to the legislation on occupational health and safety, is that they should indicate whether they have been vaccinated or not and should only treat clients who have been vaccinated.
However, he doesn’t think it should be mandatory and said individual therapists should make their own informed decision.
Dr Guy Fletcher, senior lecturer at the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, believes there is a moral argument for such workers to disclose vaccine status to clients.
“I think someone in these contexts has a moral duty to disclose that they have chosen not to participate, even if it is not requested – although it also makes sense that this is not a legal requirement. “, did he declare.
“To me, it seems very obvious that a person working in this industry has a duty to disclose their vaccination status if asked.
“The person who is potentially going to receive treatment from them must be able to assess how comfortable they are with the risk and they cannot do so if the person is unwilling to disclose their status. .
“But of course each of us can spread the virus between us, so another reason is that every potential customer can know how much of a risk they pose to others.
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“If I didn’t have a high risk of exposure to the virus through my job and my children, I would definitely ask the question. I can’t imagine a lot of people wouldn’t be willing to reveal it.
“When you pay for a service from someone who understands various forms of risk and people can be willing if they want to take less risk and that’s a very significant risk – the risk of catching Covid from someone a.
“People deserve to be able to say, ‘I’m not ready to go to this hairdresser.’ I don’t really see what argument there could be in not disclosing it.
He added: “Confidentiality has its limits and in the context of illness within a pandemic, it seems that this is offset by people knowing how much risk they are exposed to. ”
All UK doctors are required to provide a vaccination record, but it is not made available to patients.
The latest data shows more than 72% of Scots have received two doses of a Covid vaccine, ahead of England at 69.2%.
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Professor Hugh McLachlan, Emeritus Professor of Applied Philosophy at Glasgow Caledonian University, believes workers should only feel morally obligated to disclose vaccination status if they are asked about it.
He said, “If you see someone begging on the street and you take money out of their box, that would be wrong. The person has a moral right that you do not steal from them.
“If you walk past the beggar and don’t give money, it’s not to blame. It’s best if you donate money – it’s commendable, but if you walk past it’s morally neutral.
“I think if you are not vaccinated and you do not say it is not commendable but it is not a violation of the rights of the client.
“If someone goes to the hairdresser is he morally obliged to tell the hairdresser that he is not vaccinated?
“We shouldn’t put people in unreasonable danger, but there is the other question of how far do we have to go to make sure the other person is not at risk. ”