This advice applies to NSW Health Staff. Others subject to the requirements of the Public Health Order should seek workforce advice from their employing organisation

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​The information set out here relates to the Public Health Order which requires NSW Health staff to have their first COVID-19 vaccination by 30 September and their second by 30 November. The term staff includes employees, Visiting Medical Officers (VMOs), volunteers, contractors, students and other visiting practitioners.

There are some NSW Health staff who are subject to other Public Health Orders which require them to have had their first vaccination at an earlier date. For more specific information, contact your Health organisation.

The current Public Health Orders impact:

  • Staff working in residential aged care who require their first dose by 17 September.
  • Staff who live in one of the 12 local government areas of concern in Greater Sydney must have received their first dose by 8 September 2021 (or show evidence that they have a vaccination appointment on or booked before 19 September 2021) if they are an authorised worker and leave their LGA of concern to attend work.

Why is mandatory vaccination being 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.

Has a Public Health Order been made?

Yes. The Public Health (COVID-19 Vaccination of Health Care Workers) Order 2021 has been made.

Health care workers will need to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 30 September 2021 and both doses by 30 November 2021 to continue working for NSW Health or a Private Health Facility (licensed under the Private Health Facilities Act).

Am I considered a healthcare worker?

The mandatory vaccination requirement will apply 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)
  • All staff working at a Private Health Facility (licensed under the Private Health Facilities Act) both private hospitals and day procedures
  • Students in clinical placements in private facilities.

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

The Order does not include private primary care providers such as GPs. Disability workers and aged care workers are covered by different public health orders and therefore have different requirements.

What happens if I decide not to be vaccinated?

NSW Health is required to comply with the requirements of the Public Health Order and to manage risks associated with unvaccinated staff appropriately. NSW Health requires staff to comply with the Public Health Order. If you do not meet the COVID-19 vaccination requirement on the date it applies, or do not have an approved medical exemption, you cannot continue to work within NSW Health or a Private Health Facility (licensed under the Private Health Facilities Act).

What happens if I am not vaccinated by the due date?

If you do not provide evidence of your first dose by 30 September 2021 and do not have a medical contraindication form you will be on unpaid leave until you have your first dose or have a medical contraindication form. You may be able to apply to access your accrued leave entitlements for a short time to enable you to get vaccinated.

Can I work from home if I have not received the first dose by the required date?

You will not be able to do work for NSW Health unless you have been vaccinated, irrespective whether you are onsite or not by 30 September.

Will redundancy be offered to those who cannot continue to work in the system?

No, there are no roles being deleted as a result of requirement for vaccination.

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

An exemption to the Public Health Order requirement 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(s) 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 a COVID-19 medical contraindication form. If you are seeking an exemption, you will need to provide the completed form to your employing organisation in time to allow sufficient processing time prior to 30 September 2021.

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, your medical practitioner will need to complete the COVID-19 vaccine medical contraindication form and this needs to be submitted to a responsible person within your organisation. If you are seeking an exemption, you will need to lodge the required form with your organisation in time to allow enough processing time prior to 30 September 2021.

Further information will be 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 six 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.

Can I seek an exemption if I am currently working remotely?

Unless you comply with the Public Health Order, and complete a first vaccination by 30 September 2021, you will not be able to work for NSW Health unless you have been vaccinated against COVID-19, irrespective of whether you are onsite or working remotely.

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 COVID-19 vaccine medical contraindication form.

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.

The Public Health Order requires you to have had a first vaccine dose by 30 September 2021. If you do not have an approved medical exemption, you will be required to have a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to continue working for NSW Health or a Private Health Facility (licensed under the Private Health Facilities Act).

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?

AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) and Pfizer (COMIRNATY™) are the two COVID-19 vaccines currently available in Australia.

The type of COVID-19 vaccine that health care workers will be offered depends primarily on age, availability, and whether a person has any of the specified contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

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 by the TGA are accepted.

How do I book an appointment?

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

Health care workers living in one of the local government areas of concern can book a priority vaccination appointment via the NSW Government website.

If you are unable to book a vaccination appointment before the required date, you may be able to access a health care worker vaccination appointment through one of the local health districts. To do this, please contact the vaccination team where you live or work. Proof of occupation (ID card or letter from employer) will be required to demonstrate eligibility. This also applies to Ministry, Pillars and NSW Ambulance staff.

LHD vaccination team contacts

Local Health DistrictPhone contactEmail contact
Central Coast CCLHD-COVAXHub@health.nsw.gov.au
Far West1800 602 001FWLHD-COMMUNITYVACCINATION@health.nsw.gov.au
Hunter New England1800 570 575HNELHD-COVIDClinicBookingChange@health.nsw.gov.au
Illawarra Shoalhaven1300096365ISLHD-BookingsCOVIDVaccinations@health.nsw.gov.au
Murrumbidgee MLHD-COVID-19@health.nsw.gov.au
Mid-North West MNCLHD-ConsumerRelations@health.nsw.gov.au
Nepean Blue Mountains NBMLHD-COVID19@health.nsw.gov.au
Northern NSW1800 438 829https://nnswlhd.health.nsw.gov.au/covid-19-vaccinations/
Northern Sydney NSLHD-COVIDVaccinationEnquiries@health.nsw.gov.au
Sydney Children Hospitals Network SCHN-EOC@health.nsw.gov.au
South Eastern Sydney SESLHD-COVID19StaffVaccination@health.nsw.gov.au
Sydney SLHD-COVIDVaxRegistration@health.nsw.gov.au
Southern NSW SNSWLHD-Covid-Vax@health.nsw.gov.au
St Vincent's Hospital Network svhnscovid19@svha.org.au
South Western Sydney1300 056 676SWSLHD-EOC-CoVaxBookings@health.nsw.gov.au
Western NSW02 6809 6221WNSWLHD-Vaccination@health.nsw.gov.au
Western Sydney WSLHD-COVIDVaccinationBooking@health.nsw.gov.au

 

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.

NSW Health employees can view their vaccination records through the Stafflink Employee Self Service screen to see if their records are already available.

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.

Further information will also be provided to the Ministry, health system support group and pillar staff on 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 in the last six months?

A temporary exemption may be granted to people who have contracted COVID-19 in the last six months. You will need to have proof of your diagnosis and speak to your healthcare professional about the best time to be vaccinated.

I am currently on leave (eg. 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.

Are contractors, such as photocopier technicians or maintenance contractors coming on site to do work, required to be vaccine as they are not NSW Health Staff?

The Public Health Order describes "work" as including work completed under a contract of service or a contract for services, including work by a visiting practitioner within the meaning of the Health Services Act 1997, work done as a volunteer or by or for a charitable organisation, work done by a student on a student placement, and work done on a temporary basis, including while acting in or filling an officer or other role because of a vacancy or absence.

Will the private health sector be subject to the same requirements?

The Public Health Order directing mandatory vaccination also applies to:

  • All staff working at a private health facility (licensed under the Private Health Facilities Act) both private hospitals and day procedures.
  • Students in clinical placements in private facilities.
Current as at: Monday 25 October 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW