ATAGI Expanded guidance on temporary medical exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines
The below guidance is prepared to support completion of the Australian Immunisation Register immunisation medical exemption (IM011) form, Guidelines for immunisation medical exemption.
This advice covers those for whom an exemption can be provided and does not cover clinical management of adverse events. For the management of adverse events refer to your local Specialist Immunisation Service.
COVID-19 vaccines have been demonstrated to be safety and effective and as such are recommended for all Australians from 12 years of age. There are very few situations where a vaccine is contraindicated and as such, medical exemption is expected to be rarely required.
Vaccinations may reasonably be temporarily deferred for individuals with some acute major medical conditions (e.g. undergoing major surgery or hospital admission for a serious illness). Typically, these are time-limited conditions (or the medical treatment for them is time limited) and therefore temporary exemptions are considered appropriate. These exemptions are only to be given where a suitable alternative COVID-19 vaccine is not readily available for the individual; all COVID-19 brands must be selected on the medical exemption (IM011) form.
- For an mRNA COVID-19 vaccines this includes: Inflammatory cardiac illness within the past 6 months, e.g., myocarditis, pericarditis, endocarditis; acute rheumatic fever or acute rheumatic heart disease (i.e., with active myocardial inflammation); or acute decompensated heart failure
- For all COVID-19 vaccines: ATAGI recommends that vaccination can be deferred in those with PCR- confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection until complete recovery from the acute illness (which may be up to 6 months), regardless of disease severity. Chronic symptoms following COVID-19 (“Long COVID”) is not a contraindication to COVID-19 vaccines, but does warrant a clinical discussion with the patient.
- For all COVID-19 vaccines: Serious adverse event attributed to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and without another cause identified.