Last week the NSW Government announced mandatory vaccination of health care workers.
AAPi sought further clarification to understand the obligations of our members.
We received the following advice from NSW Health. Please note this is information is correct at the time of writing. Changes or amendments either at a state, federal or workplace levels may still occur and we will do our best to provide members with the most up to date information.
Public Health Order for Health Care Workers
The Public Health (COVID-19 Vaccination of Health Care Workers) Order 2021 establishes mandatory requirements for certain workers in health care to be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine. The Order does not mandate vaccination for all people working as psychologists in NSW.
The Order applies to “health care workers” (cl. 2):
- In the public sector, persons who do work, including as a member of staff of the NSW Health Service, for a public health organisation, the Health Administration Corporation and Ambulance Service of NSW, as well as staff of the Ministry of Health.
- In the private sector, a person who does work in a licensed private health facility.
“Work” is defined broadly to cover employees, contractors, VMOs, visiting practitioners, volunteers and students undertaking clinical placements (cl. 2).
Psychologists who work in the public sector and psychologists employed in a private health facility, being a private hospital or day procedure centre, would be covered by the Order and would be required to be vaccinated.
The Order requires the first dose of a vaccine by 30 September 2021, with a second dose required by 30 November 2021.
Workers will be required to provide evidence of a medical contraindication via a certificate from a medical practitioner, in a form approved by the CHO, that specifies the medical contraindication.
Authorised workers in a declared LGA of Concern
There are requirements for authorised workers in a declared local government area (LGA) of concern who authorised to leave their LGA for work purposes to be vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 6 September or have evidence of a medical exemption. Further information is available here.
There is a separate requirement for Aged Care Facilities.
The Public Health (COVID-19 Aged Care Facilities) Order 2021 requires staff (including contractors) of a residential aged care facility (RACF) and persons engaged by the operator to provide services, including health practitioners engaged by the operator, (other than students and certain maintenance contractors) to have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination in order to enter or remain at the RACF after 9am on 17 September 2021.
The Order also requires students on placement and health practitioners engaged by a resident to have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination in order to enter or remain at the RACF after 9am on 31 October 2021.
Workers will need to provide evidence of having received a COVID 19 vaccination if requested to do so by their employer. Employers will be able to request this information.
An exemption is available for a worker if they are unable to be vaccinated a due to a medical contraindication. Workers will be required to provide evidence of a medical contraindication via a certificate from a medical practitioner, in a form approved by the CHO, that specifies the medical contraindication.
Psychologists working in schools
The Department of Education (DoE) have provided advice regarding vaccinations for staff. Please contact DoE or your manager/supervisor for clarification on your requirements regarding vaccinations.
What to do if you have concerns or questions
If you have any questions about the COVID-19 vaccination, we encourage you to talk about this with a qualified health professional such as your GP.
If you are an employee or contractor, please discuss your workplace requirements with your employer, manager or supervisor.
If you are an employer (such as in private practice) and seeking to understand your obligations, please visit Safe Work Australia, SafeWork NSW or the Fair Work Ombudsman.
To book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, psychologists can visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker. More information about COVID-19 vaccinations in NSW can be found on the NSW Government website.
We would also encourage members to be familiar with the Ahpra position statement on vaccinations for registered health practitioners and students.