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 received clarification from the Personal Health Information Act, Province of Manitoba, Workplace Safety and Health, the Manitoba Human Rights commission as well as MTAM's legal counsel. The following information is meant to assist members in managing a variety of scenarios if they arise in their practice. 

As we've come to understand throughout the pandemic, information and guidance can change quickly. Members are encouraged to refer to this page frequently for the latest updates.

Q. Can I ask a client if they’ve been vaccinated?
A. This depends on the situation. 

The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) requires trustees to collect only the minimum information needed to deliver safe and effective treatments.

You should only ask a client if they’ve been vaccinated if it is neccessary to collect that information. If the RMT has deemed it necessary to ask, they should document the reason in the chart notes.

Prior to treatment, screen all clients as usual for COVID-19 symptoms. Screening should not include asking whether a client has been vaccinated or not. Continue to use the Shared Health Screening Tool which is updated regularly.

On the first treatment and at the beginning of each subsequent treatment, ask the client if there have been any changes to their health status, or have there been any changes to the medications they are on. 

If there are factors which will affect your client's treatment plan, it is appropriate to ask any necessary questions which will assist you in planning a safe treatment. 

If the client has recently travelled and does not have an exemption 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. While businesses are free to create their own workplace health and safety policies to minimize risk of harm in the workplace, MTAM does not recommend that you refuse to treat clients solely on the basis of their vaccination status. 

Risk reduction protocols including the use of PPE, sanitation, hygiene and physical distancing are put in place to help protect clinic staff and clients in the workplace and provide a reasonably safe environment for treatments to take place.

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 MTAM 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 choices, including the decision to get vaccinated, are personal. Members should not base the decision to provide treatment on that criteria. 

Some individuals are exempt from being vaccinated and are protected by the Manitoba Humans Rights Code. Exemptions may be related to medical condition, age, etc.

Please refer to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission Guidelines page for full details on vaccination and covid-19 related exemptions. 

Q. If during routine screening, a client states that they have returned from travel in the past 14 days, can I specifically ask about their vaccination status?
A. If a client has recently travelled you may need to ask the client about their vaccination status.

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.

Refer to the Public Health Orders regarding travel and self-isolation requirements for current self-isolation requirements and exemptions.

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 do 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.

Simply state that you choose not to disclose your personal health information. You may want to add that you are continuing to follow proper sanitization, hygiene, PPE, and self-isolation protocols to help keep everyone safe.

If you choose to disclose your vaccination status, it's best to keep your response to a yes or no  answer and avoid elaboration. The client may confuse any additional information as advice on the matter which is outside of our scope of practice.

In order to avoid misunderstandings or liability concerns, if a client asks your opinion on vaccines, refer them to their primary health care provider or other health professional whose scope of practice includes the topic of vaccinations.

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 have a need to make informed decisions on whether they wish to continue to receive treatment.

While it may be difficult to lose a client because of your vaccination status or choice to share your status, remember - who they see for their health care needs is their choice.

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.”

Q. How soon can clients receive a massage treatment after being vaccinated?
A. With any injection, including vaccinations, the immediate site is a local contraindication. Redness and soreness in the area may contraindicate treatment for the entire limb or region. These types of concerns are generally uncovered during your routine pre-treatment intake and assessment.

Common side-effects of vaccines such as flu and COVID-19 vaccines, are flu-like symptoms. Avoid treatment until the symptoms subside - usually within 24-48 hours.

As usual, all clients should be screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to their appointment and treatment. Based on the client's responses you should be able to determine whether or not to proceed with treatment at that time.

Q. If a client or RMT has been fully vaccinated are they still required to wear a mask and continue to follow COVID-19 safety protocols?
A. Yes. Vaccinations are one part of a broader infection control and risk reduction strategy.

MTAM strongly recommends that all members and their clients continue to follow public health guideline even if they are fully vaccinated including:

  • use masks
  • use of additional PPE as needed and
  • follow COVID-19 guidelines for sanitation, hygiene and physical distancing.

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