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.
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.
The mandatory vaccination requirement applies to all staff* working in connection with a health agency, including:
*The term staff includes employees, Visiting Medical Officers (VMOs), volunteers, contractors, students and other visiting practitioners.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
NSW Health has provided access to COVID-19 vaccinations and will continue to do so.
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.
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.
There are a number of COVID-19 vaccines available in Australia. You should discuss which option is best for you with your immunisation provider.
Rapid antigen testing is not an alternative to vaccination.
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.
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Under the Public Health Order, vaccines that are provisionally approved or recognised by the TGA are accepted.
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.
There are a number of ways you can receive your 'proof of vaccination':
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.
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.
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.
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
You can access available sick leave if you experience any side effects to 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.
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.
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.
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.