COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 Vaccines and Massage Therapy

This situation regarding COVID-19 vaccinations and the current public health order is still very new and there’s no applicable precedent to refer to at the moment. MTAM has requested clarification from the Province and multiple organizations on what types of questions are permitted by health professionals with respect to vaccines and the current travel and self-isolation exemptions. 

As we've come to understand throughout the pandemic, information and guidance can change quickly. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we get clarification on new scenarios as they arise.

MTAM has received many questions from RMTs and their clients about vaccination status. The types of questions that have been asked are as follows:

  • Can I ask a client if they’ve been vaccinated?
  • Can I turn a client away if they haven’t been vaccinated?
  • How do the new travel and self-isolation exemptions impact client screening?
  • Can a client ask me if I’ve been vaccinated? Do I have to answer?
  • How do I respond if a client refuses to see me?

The following information is to provide clarification on these questions in relation to PHIA, MTAM’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. We will add to this FAQ as new information and clarification becomes available.

Q. Can I ask a client if they’ve been vaccinated?
A. Yes and No depending on the situation. 

You should only ask a client if they’ve been vaccinated if it is neccessary to collect that information.

At the beginning of each treatment, you should continue to use the Shared Health Screening Tool and as as part of your regular pre-treatment intake and assessment, ask if there been any changes to their health status, or have there been any changes to the medications they are on. 

Other than wanting to avoid a recent injection site or a sore arm due to a recent injection, massage therapists do not specifically need to know if a client has been vaccinated. If you ask at the beginning of the treatment “have there been any changes in your health” and “have there been any changes to your medications since your last treatment” along with any appropriate follow up questions, you should have the necessary information to plan a safe and effective treatment.

A thorough client screening process and health history intake/update should catch issues or red flags for most situations including adverse reactions from vaccinations or other medication changes that may contraindicate massage therapy treatment. 

Be mindful that according to The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) we should be only collecting the minimum information required to deliver safe and effective treatments.

If the client has recently travelled and does not have an exemptoin under the public health order, this would be an example of a situation in which you may need to specifically ask a client's vaccination status. Please see the question below on this page regarding travel and self-isolation exemptions.

Q. Can I turn away a client if they haven’t been vaccinated?
A. No. MTAM does not recommend that you turn away clients on the basis of their vaccination status. 

As long as the client meets the screening criteria and is following public health measures while at your work site (hand sanitizing, wearing a mask and has followed any current public health orders regarding self-isolation and travel) you should not refuse to see them solely based on their vaccination status. 

According to the Code of Ethics, Principle 1, Respect for Persons, massage therapists need to “listen to and respect a patient’s values, opinions, needs and cultural beliefs.” A person’s decision to get vaccinated is a personal one and even if their values differ from your own you cannot refuse treatment.

Q. If during your routine screening, a client states that they have returned from travel in the past 14 days, can I specifically about their vaccination status?

A. If a client has recently travelled you may need to ask the client about their vaccination status.

The new public health orders regarding travel and self-isolation requirements specify that individuals who have been fully vaccinated and have received their second dose at least 14 days ago are exempt from self-isolation requirements after interprovincial travel. 

If a client indicates that they have travelled recently RMTs should ask the client if they are exempt from any of the self-isolation requirements and use your professional judgement on whether or not it’s necessary to ask more detailed questions regarding vaccination status.

View current exemptions.

Q. Can a client ask me if I’ve been vaccinated?
A. Inevitably, clients will ask you if you’ve been vaccinated; however, you do not need to disclose your vaccination status. Getting vaccinated is a personal choice which you don’t have to share with clients.

Q. I don’t want to disclose my vaccination status, but how to I communicate that to clients if they ask?
A. It can be difficult to come up with the right words on such a sensitive topic. Some suggestions are:
“I understand why you would be curious, but I don’t feel comfortable discussing my medical decisions with my clients. Getting any vaccine is a personal and private decision which I don’t feel comfortable discussing at work. As always I will continue to follow proper sanitization, hygiene, PPE, and self-isolation protocols to help keep everyone safe.”

An alternative is:
“I respect that getting vaccinated is a personal choice. Unless it's necessary to ask as it pertains to a current public health order, I will not be asking my clients if they’ve been vaccinated in order to respect their decision, and I will not be discussing my vaccine status. As always I will continue to follow proper sanitization, hygiene, PPE, and self-isolation protocols to help keep everyone safe.”

Q. What if a client refuses to see me based on my vaccination status?
A. Be aware that whether or not you choose to disclose your vaccination status clients may make decisions on whether they wish to continue seeing you for treatment. While it may be difficult to lose a client because of your vaccination status, remember who they see for their health care needs is their choice. As health care practitioners we shouldn’t be pressuring or confronting clients. One way to respond to this situation is; “Thank you for trusting me with your care and I’m sorry to lose you as a client. If you change your mind in the future please feel free to contact me.”

MTAM members can Contact an MTAM Practice Advisor for individual assistance as needed.