Anyone providing services to a person with disability will need to be appropriately vaccinated.

See Advice to residential disability care facilities

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About the Public Health Order

Why do people providing services to a person with disability require COVID-19 vaccination?

COVID-19 vaccination protects against COVID-19 infection. People with disability are some of our most vulnerable community members.  This is because they are at greater risk of serious illness, hospitalisation and death as a result of COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions and the nature of their disability.

One dose of vaccine provides around 70% protection against hospitalisation and death from the Delta variant and significantly reduces the spread of COVID-19 to people around you.  This is particularly important if you work with vulnerable people. Two doses of vaccine provides protection of around 90%.

What roles are included in the Public Health Order?

The vaccination requirement in the Public Health Order includes staff and volunteers (including those in administrative or corporate roles) who work on site at disability services or other services delivering disability supports to people with disabilities.

This includes, but is not limited to, anyone providing a service to a person with disability in the following settings:

  • residential disability care
  • in-home disability care
  • disability day programs
  • supported employment
  • training programs
  • community-based disability support services
  • services funded or provided by:
    • the National Disability Insurance Scheme
    • the Assisted School Travel Program.

The vaccination requirement in the Public Health Order includes staff and volunteers (including those in administrative or corporate roles) who work on site at disability services or other services delivering disability supports to people with disabilities.

Who is not included in the Public Health Order?

The Public Health Order has a broad definition and includes anyone who provides services to a person with disability.  The only exemption is for someone who has been issued with a medical contraindication certificate by a medical practitioner.

Everyone aged 5 years and over in NSW is strongly encouraged to be vaccinated to protect themselves and those around them.

Do volunteers working in these settings require a vaccination?

Yes. Regardless of whether you are a volunteer or a paid worker, if you are providing services to a person with disability you must be appropriately vaccinated to be able to continue to provide a voluntary service to a person with a disability.

See Advice to residential disability care facilities.

Where can I find more information on the Public Health Order and COVID-19 vaccination for disability workers?

The requirement for mandatory vaccination can be found at section 6C of the Public Health (COVID-19 Care Services) Order 2021.

You can also find more information about COVID-19 vaccination for disability workers and service providers at the Australian Government Department of Health - COVID-19 vaccine information for people with disability and disability service providers.

Do I need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to my employer?

You must provide evidence of COVID-19 vaccination to your employer, or the person who engages you to provide services, if they request it.

How do I get proof of COVID-19 vaccination?

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination must be from the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). You don't need a Medicare card to access the AIR. You can access your Immunisation History Statement online or call the AIR to have an Immunisation History Statement sent in the post.  Your doctor can also provide you with a printed copy of your vaccination history as proof of your COVID vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccination

Where can I get vaccinated?

There are several ways to can get vaccinated against COVID-19.

  • If you work in a residential disability care facility, ask your manager if your facility is arranging vaccinations for staff.
  • Disability workers can access a Pfizer (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna (Spikevax) vaccine, Novavax (Nuvaxovid) or an AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) COVID-19 vaccine at a general practice, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service or Commonwealth Vaccination Clinic (GP respiratory clinics).
  • Workers can also make an appointment at a NSW Health vaccination clinic or attend a walk-in clinic or participating pharmacy.
  • The Australian Government has published a list of disability vaccination hubs to help disability workers as well as people with a disability and their carers get vaccinated. Find a disability vaccination hub on the Australian Government disability vaccination clinics page.

Visit NSW Government - Get your COVID-19 vaccination to book an appointment or find a walk-in clinic or participating pharmacy near you.

Who can ask me for proof of my COVID-19 vaccination status?

You can be asked to provide proof of vaccination by:

  • the person or organisation that employees you – for example, the person with disability or the disability service provider
  • the person responsible for you while you provide services – for example, the manager of a Community Centre on whose premises you are teaching a skill to a person with disability.

Am I eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine if I do not have a Medicare card?

The COVID-19 vaccination is free for all people living in Australia. You can be vaccinated at a NSW Health clinic, Commonwealth vaccination clinic or a pharmacy if you don't have a Medicare card.

Visit NSW Government - Get your COVID-19 vaccination to book an appointment or find a walk-in clinic near you.

Can I choose which COVID-19 vaccine I get?

Disability workers can choose to get any of the four available vaccines in Australia: AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) or Moderna (Spikevax) or Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Novavax (Nuvaxovid) COVID-19 vaccines. While it is preferable to use the same brand for both doses of the primary course, an alternative brand can be used for the second dose in select circumstances including if a patient is unable to access or not accepting of a second dose of the same brand.

One dose of a COVID-19 vaccine provides around 70% protection against hospitalisation and death from the Delta variant and significantly reduces the spread of COVID-19 to people around you. Two doses of vaccine provide protection of around 90%, and the protection will last longer.

Not being able to get a booking for your preferred COVID-19 vaccine before the deadline will not be considered sufficient grounds for an exemption.

What happens if I refuse to be vaccinated?

If you do not meet the COVID-19 vaccination requirement on the date it applies, you cannot continue to provide services to a person with disability.

Exemptions

Are there exemptions on medical grounds?

A person who has a medical contraindication to the COVID-19 vaccines available for use in Australia and has been issued with a Medical Contraindication Certificate by a registered medical practitioner is exempt from the requirement to get vaccinated.

The Certificate must be in the form approved by the Chief Health Officer and must specify the medical contraindication.

A person will only be granted an exemption if they have medical contraindications to all the available vaccines.

You must be able to produce the completed form as evidence of your exemption.

Are there any other exemptions?

The only grounds for an exemption is a medical contraindication to all available vaccines. Everyone aged 5 years and over in NSW is strongly encouraged to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

I am pregnant and/or breastfeeding – are there any considerations for me?

Pregnant women are recommended to receive the Pfizer (Comirnaty) or Moderna (Spikevax) COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe to be given at any stage during pregnancy and are also suitable for people who are breastfeeding.

Women who are breastfeeding or who are planning pregnancy are also recommended to receive Pfizer or Moderna. Women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to delay vaccination or avoid becoming pregnant after vaccination.

Please speak to your GP or relevant health professional to discuss your individual circumstances and how you can get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding are not considered medical contraindications for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and are therefore not exemptions under the Public Health Order.

Current as at: Friday 1 April 2022
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW