Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in aged care

Find out about mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for aged care workers.

About Mandatory Vaccination

What you need to know

  1. Aged care workers may be required to provide their employer with evidence of their COVID-19 vaccination or authorised exemption.
  2. Aged care providers are required to keep a record on workers’ vaccination status, but it may be voluntary for you to disclose your vaccination status.
  3. Aged care providers are required to report on the number of workers with an authorised exemption as part of their weekly workforce COVID-19 vaccination reporting via the aged care provider portal.

State and territory public health orders and directions

State and territory public health orders (or directions) explain how mandatory COVID-19 vaccination applies to aged care workers and providers. You are encouraged to be familiar with any mandatory vaccination requirements in your jurisdiction.

Workers need to provide evidence of their vaccination status

Workers who are subject to public health orders mandating COVID-19 vaccination may be required to provide evidence of their COVID-19 vaccination status, or of an authorised exemption to vaccination.

There are two ways workers can provide evidence of their vaccination status:

  1. Immunisation History Statement – this displays all vaccinations or medical contraindications and authorised exemptions, including COVID-19, that have been reported to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). All vaccine providers must upload vaccinations to the AIR.
  2. COVID-19 Digital Certificate – updated for each dose of vaccine, including booster doses.

People can access their Immunisation History Statement:

  • online, by setting up a myGov account and then accessing a Medicare online account; or
  • through the Express Plus Medicare mobile app; or
  • by calling the Australian Immunisation Register enquiries line on 1800 653 809 (8am-5pm, Monday to Friday AEST) and asking them to send a copy of the statement. Please allow up to 14 days to receive the statement in the post; or
  • by asking a GP or vaccination provider to print a copy of your statement for you.

People do not need to have a Medicare card to be able to access their Immunisation History Statement.

Fact sheets are available for how residential aged care workers and in-home and community aged care workers can prove their COVID-19 vaccination status, including step-by-step guides on how to create a myGov account.

Temporary exemptions to COVID-19 vaccination

Temporary exemptions are a matter for individual states and territories, including determining the process for applying for and approving exemptions, based on the relevant processes and decision-making bodies in each jurisdiction.

Medical and other exemptions to COVID-19 vaccination

All temporary and permanent medical exemptions must be authorised by a medical practitioner.

Authorised medical practitioners (including General Practitioners) can notify the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) of an individual who has a vaccine exemption due to medical contraindications or natural immunity, which will be displayed on an individual’s Immunisation History Statement (IHS).

This includes permanent vaccine exemption or temporary vaccine exemption until a specified date due to acute major illness and significant immunocompromise of short duration as permitted under the respective state or territory public health order.

Each state or territory public health order provides direction on what exemptions may be considered. The public health order will also provide direction on the evidence workers must provide to their employer as proof of an authorised exemption to a COVID-19 vaccine.

None of the public health orders allow exemptions on religious, political or personal grounds.

Providers must ensure compliance

As employers, aged care providers should carefully consider the formal public health orders and directions applicable to them in each of the relevant states and territories where their facilities or services operate.

Providers are encouraged to review information on the Fair Work Australia website which steps out COVID-19 vaccinations, workplace rights and obligations.

Providers will determine if additional screening is required for anyone entering a residential aged care service or in-home or community aged care service who is unvaccinated.

Data reported via the aged care provider portal is used to assess a residential aged care facility’s compliance with mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.

The Department may contact facilities directly to:

  • ensure continuity of resident care standards as a priority

  • understand the reasons for any non-medical exemptions or unvaccinated workers

  • provide advice on the availability and access to a vaccine for unvaccinated workers

  • provide advice on exemption requirements for the relevant state or territory public health order, and

  • ensure exemptions have been reported correctly in the aged care provider portal.

If strategies are not implemented to adequately minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection, including through workforce vaccination, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission may take regulatory action.

The relevant state or territory may then take compliance action or impose penalties where compliance with the relevant public health order is not achieved. These penalties are detailed in the state and territory public health orders.

Resources for workers

Resources for providers

Last updated: 
26 July 2022

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