This advice applies to NSW Health staff. Others should seek workforce advice from their employing organisation.

​​​The information set out here relates to the requirement for NSW Health staff to have received at least 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The term staff includes employees, Visiting Medical Officers (VMOs), volunteers, contractors, students and other visiting practitioners.

Why was mandatory vaccination introduced?

The vaccine is highly effective against severe illness, hospitalisation and death, and will keep staff, patients and visitors safe from COVID-19.

NSW Health and other employers are required under Work, Health and Safety laws to implement "all reasonably practical control measures" to ensure the health and safety of staff.

Am I required to have the COVID-19 vaccine?

The mandatory vaccination requirement applies to all staff* working in connection with a health agency, including:

  • Public Health Organisations (Local Health Districts, Specialty Health Networks (SHNs), Pillars and Affiliated Health Organisations)
  • NSW Ministry of Health
  • Health Administration Corporation (HAC) entities, Ambulance Service, NSW Health Pathology, HealthShare, Health Protection, Health Infrastructure, Health Professionals Councils Authority (HPCA)

*The term staff includes employees, Visiting Medical Officers (VMOs), volunteers, contractors, students and other visiting practitioners.

What happens if I decide not to be vaccinated?

NSW Health requires staff to comply with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements of the Secretary's Determination and Direction. If you do not meet the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, or do not have an approved medical exemption, you cannot continue to work within NSW Health.

What if I cannot be vaccinated because of a medical reason?

An exemption will only be considered if you are unable to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for a medical reason. You will only be granted an exemption if you have a medical contraindication to all of the available COVID-19 vaccines, or you have another medical reason for a temporary exemption.

You will need to speak to your medical practitioner and ask them to complete an Australian Immunisation Register - immunisation medical exemption form (IM011).

What happens if my application for a medical exemption is approved? What does this mean for my ongoing employment, role etc.

You will continue to be able to work in your current role, noting that current control measures will continue to be in place. Where the nature of the medical contraindication could adversely impact your ability to perform your role safely, a risk assessment will be undertaken to address any concerns.

As more information becomes available on COVID-19 vaccines, the medical contraindication you currently experience, may not prevent you from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine in the future.

What is the process for applying for a medical exemption?

In accordance with the Public Health Order, workers will be required to provide evidence of a medical contraindication via a certificate from a medical practitioner. From 25 February 2022, medical practitioners must use the Australian Immunisation Register - immunisation medical exemption form (IM011).  Any NSW COVID-19 vaccine medical contraindication forms issued on or before 24 February 2022 remains valid. A medical practitioner must not issue a medical contraindication certificate unless the medical practitioner reasonably believes that, because of a specified medical contraindication, the person cannot have any approved COVID-19 vaccine available in New South Wales.

Further information has been provided to Ministry, health system support group and pillar staff on where they need to send medical exemption applications.

What happens if my doctor has recommended a temporary exemption?

A temporary exemption may be granted for up to four months for people, where clinically appropriate. One example may include, a person undergoing treatment resulting in temporary immunocompromise.

Staff members who have had COVID-19 and have fully recovered can receive their COVID-19 vaccination. There is no need to delay vaccination if they have fully recovered. The medical clearance notice provided to the staff member can be used as a temporary exemption from vaccination for 6 weeks only.

What happens if my application for a medical exemption is not approved?

Medical contraindications will only be accepted if they are in accordance with the Australian Immunisation Register - immunisation medical exemption form (IM011). If you have a medical contraindication to a specific COVID-19 vaccine, discuss with your medical practitioner whether you can receive an alternative COVID-19 vaccine.

If you do not have an approved medical exemption, you will be required to have at least 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to work in NSW Health.

How will NSW Health assist staff to meet their vaccination requirement?

NSW Health has provided access to COVID-19 vaccinations and will continue to do so.

What information will be provided before receiving a vaccination?

You will be provided with information to make an informed decision about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. You will have the opportunity to ask questions at the time of your vaccination, and to understand the risks and benefits of vaccination. If you are not satisfied with the information you have received, you can ask for more information.

While the NSW Public Health Order requires all NSW Health employees, volunteers, students and contractors to comply with the mandatory requirement for vaccination, you will not be forced to have the vaccine.

However, those not willing to have the COVID-19 vaccine will not be able to continue their employment with NSW Health.

Have the vaccines been properly reviewed by regulatory agencies?

All vaccines available in Australia are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for safety, quality, and effectiveness. Vaccine scientists from around the world are working together to ensure that rigorous processes are followed, and no testing or ethical approvals have been bypassed. COVID-19 vaccines must meet the same high standards as any other vaccine approved for use in Australia.

Can I have the vaccine of my choice? Will it be available?

There are a number of COVID-19 vaccines available in Australia. You should discuss which option is best for you with your immunisation provider.

What about rapid antigen testing? Can I do that instead of getting vaccinated?

Rapid antigen testing is not an alternative to vaccination.

Can I get vaccinated in work time?

Please talk to your manager about when your appointment is so that rosters can be managed accordingly and/or flexible working arrangements to accommodate absence can be discussed.

If you are vaccinated in your own time you can claim a two-hour special leave payment on each occasion of COVID-19 vaccination.

Is there vaccination information in languages other than English?

The Australian Government has added translations in 15 languages. Languages currently included: Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek, Punjabi, Korean, Turkish, Bengali, Serbian, Khmer, Spanish, Hindi and Assyrian.

What if I have been vaccinated overseas?

Under the Public Health Order, vaccines that are provisionally approved or recognised by the TGA are accepted.

How do I book an appointment?

Appointments can be made in the first instance, via the COVID-19 Vaccine Finder at a NSW Vaccination Clinic, your GP or a community pharmacy.

LHD vaccination team contacts

Local Health DistrictPhone contactEmail contact
Central Coast
Far West1800 602 001
Hunter New England1800 570 575
Illawarra Shoalhaven1300096365
Mid-North West
Nepean Blue Mountains
Northern NSW1800 438 829
Northern Sydney
Sydney Children Hospitals Network
South Eastern Sydney
Southern NSW
St Vincent's Hospital Network
South Western Sydney1300 056 676
Western NSW02 6809 6221
Western Sydney


How can I prove I have been vaccinated?

There are a number of ways you can receive your 'proof of vaccination':

  • Download your COVID-19 digital certificate via the Express Plus Medicare mobile app or your Medicare online account through myGov.
    • You can add your COVID-19 digital certificate to your Apple Wallet or Google Pay.
    • Instructions are available on the Services Australia website.
  • Your vaccination provider may be able to print your immunisation history statement.
  • Call the Australian Immunisation Register on 1800 653 809 (Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm) and ask for your statement to be sent to you. It can take up to 14 days to arrive in the post.
  • If you're not eligible for Medicare, call the Australian Immunisation Register and request your certificate be mailed to you or add your COVID-19 certificate to your digital wallet using the Individual Healthcare Identifiers service (IHI service) through myGov.

Further information will be provided to Ministry, Health System Support Group and Pillar staff about proof of vaccination and how to seek a medical exemption.

Who should I send my vaccination record to?

Your vaccination records should be sent to your local staff health unit at your local health district, network or health pillar. If you do not have a staff health unit, you will receive further advice from your manager.

Staff within the Ministry, health system support group and pillar staff will be advised by their manager where to send proof of vaccination and medical exemption forms.

I am concerned about the privacy implications of reporting my vaccination status. How will this information be held and what will my manager access?

All vaccination information is securely stored in the NSW Staff Health vaccination database called VaxLink. Only authorised staff can view vaccination records.

Managers will be able to view their staff member's vaccination compliance status only.

Who can see my vaccination status?

All employees can see their own vaccination status by logging into employee self service in StaffLink. Managers can view the vaccination status by logging into manager self service in StaffLink

What leave is available if I have an adverse reaction to the vaccination?

You can access available sick leave if you experience any side effects to the vaccination.

Will I have access to workers compensation if I suffer long-term adverse effects from the vaccination?

An employee can lodge a claim for workers' compensation if they suffer an illness as a consequence of vaccination. The claim will be subject to all other criteria for a valid workers' compensation claim.

What if I have had COVID-19 recently?

A temporary exemption may be granted to people who have contracted COVID-19 in the last four months. You will need to have proof of your diagnosis (either PCR, or a RAT that has been registered with Service NSW) and speak to your healthcare professional about the best time to be vaccinated.

I am currently on leave (e.g. annual leave, maternity or long service). When am I required to have the vaccine? Can this be done prior to my return to work?

If you are already on leave at the time vaccinations are due, you are still encouraged to get your COVID-19 vaccination as this in your best interest to protect you and your family. Please note, you are required to have had your vaccination(s) before you return to duty and will be required to provide evidence of your vaccination status prior to resuming duty.

I am pregnant or planning my pregnancy. What are my options?

You can get vaccinated if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying for a baby. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and should get vaccinated now. Vaccination reduces the risk of severe disease during pregnancy and helps keep you and your unborn baby protected from the virus.

For more information visit the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.

Current as at: Tuesday 21 June 2022
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW