COVID-19 | Mandatory vaccination in the education sector in Victoria – medical exemptions

1 November 2021
Steven Troeth, Partner, Melbourne

The Chief Health Officer has received reports from some general practitioners that they are facing significant pressure from a small minority of people who do not want to be vaccinated for reasons other than the limited medical exemptions that exist. There have also been patients who are attending multiple clinics seeking an exemption.

In response, the Chief Health Officer has updated the Mandatory Vaccination Directions to clarify the process around medical exemptions.

Acceptable certification

Up to 12 November 2021 an acceptable certification of a medical exemption is:

  1. a certificate issued by the person’s medical practitioner that states that the person is unable to receive a dose, or a further dose, of a COVID-19 vaccine for one or more of the medical exemption reasons; or
  2. the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) medical exemption form (IM011) that is completed and signed by the person’s medical practitioner and states that the person is unable to receive a dose, or a further dose, of a COVID-19 vaccine for one or more the medical exemption reasons.

Therefore, a doctor’s certificate or letter that has already been provided by a worker, that is not a completed AIR medical exemption form, can continue to be used up to 12 November 2021.

After 12 November, only an AIR medical exemption form will be an acceptable certification.

So, if a person has already provided an exemption from their medical practitioner other than the AIR medical exemption form – such as a doctor’s certificate or letter – they will need to return to their medical practitioner and obtain an AIR medical exemption form by 12 November 2021. The failure to do so means that the person will not have a valid medical exemption after that date.

An acceptable certification will be effective until the earlier of the date specified by the medical practitioner or the date 6 months from the date the certification is given.

These changes should significantly reduce the uncertainty for schools when they receive medical certificates or letters that are unclear or purport to provide a medical exemption.

Grounds for exemption

The grounds for exemption continue to be that a person is unable to receive a dose, or a further does, of a COVID-19 vaccine due to:

  1. a medical contraindication (being one of the contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine as expressly set out in the Mandatory Vaccination Directions); or
  2. an acute medical illness (including where the person has been diagnosed with COVID-19).

The date by which workers in education facilities are required to have a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine continues to be 29 November 2021.

Schools should refer to the full terms of the relevant Directions updated on 29 October 2021 to ensure they comply with their obligations – COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Specified Facilities) Directions (No 11).

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Authored by:

Steven Troeth, Partner
Claire Duggan, Associate

This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

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