COVID-19 vaccination information

Vaccinations are mandatory for all who work in early childhood education and care settings under the current Public Health Order.

All early childhood education and care educators and staff under the current Public Health Order must have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination. This includes for all:

  • staff working on site.
  • volunteers working on site.
  • contractors, maintenance staff, cleaners and all other workers who are on site.

Vaccination is required for all service types:

  • Preschool
  • Long day care
  • Family day care
  • Outside school hours care
  • Vacation care
  • Mobile services
  • Occasional care.

Any staff members who have not received mandated COVID-19 vaccinations and are unable to obtain a medical contraindication certificate from their doctor are not be able to attend early childhood educational settings.

Family day care residences must ensure the residence is not open to provide education or care to any child unless each person who is at least 18 years of age residing at the residence (an adult resident) has either, had two doses of vaccination, or has been issued with a medical contraindication certificate.

Approved providers/employers are required to keep a record of staff (and volunteers, contractors, FDC educators etc) vaccination status. They should sight the status and then keep this on a log.

Requirements to be vaccinated do not apply to workers who need to visit early childhood sites during an emergency. An emergency is defined as:

  • a serious, unexpected and dangerous situation.
  • an event posing an immediate and serious risk to the operation of the early childhood premise and to the children and staff in that premise.
  • the COVID-19 Vaccination Program hotline is available on 1800 571 155 between 8am – 9.30pm, 7 days a week.

COVID-19 booster vaccinations will become mandatory as part of the Public Health Order for Education and Care workers.

A booster vaccination can be given 4 or more months after your first 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

 Studies show that the immunity created by COVID-19 vaccines begins to wane over time.

A booster dose helps to strengthen your immune system and improve your long-term protection against serious illness from the COVID-19 virus.

COVID-19 booster vaccines are highly recommended to continue to protect you, your loved ones and your community against COVID-19.
 
Book in for your booster vaccinations via the vaccine clinic finder.

In order to reduce the impact on the public health system, the AHPPC has recommended that staff at early childhood education and care services should be vaccinated for influenza. However, it is not a requirement under the National Law and Regulations.

If this becomes a requirement under a Public Health Order in NSW we will notify you.

In the interests of the health and wellbeing of all staff and children at your service we encourage you to get the influenza vaccine if there are no contraindications for you to do so.

Children under five years old are entitled to a free influenza vaccine. Some employers also subsidise vaccines for staff.

For information about the influenza vaccination, including people who are eligible to receive the vaccination for free visit the NSW Health website.

The Public Health Orders (PHO) place obligations on workers in areas where mandatory vaccination is required, not employers. However, as an employer of a relevant worker, you should:

  • keep accurate and up to date records of COVID-19 vaccination for all staff visiting the premises. This should indicate that a genuine vaccination record or medical contraindication has been sighted.
  • ensure all staff visiting the premises (including volunteers, all contractors, maintenance staff, cleaners and all other workers who are on site) are fully vaccinated.

The following people may request evidence of vaccination status:

  • the worker’s employer
  • the occupier of the workers place of work
  • a police officer
  • an authorised person (under the Public Health Act 2010).

Where requested, a worker must show:

If staff refuse mandatory vaccination:

An exemption is available for staff who are unable to be vaccinated due to a medical contraindication to the COVID-19 vaccine. A medical contraindication prevents people from receiving a vaccine, as it may increase their chances of a serious adverse event. There are very limited reasons as to why a medical contraindication would be applied.

The following professionals can provide medical contraindications:

  • general practitioners (GP) registered as a specialist in General Practice with the Medical Board of Australia
  • vocational registered GPs who have general registration with the Medical Board of Australia
  • general practice registrars on an approved 3GA training placement
  • paediatricians
  • public health physicians
  • infectious diseases physicians
  • clinical immunologists.

NSW Health specify a COVID-19 vaccine medical contraindication form that medical practitioners must use when a staff member has a contraindication to the COVID-19 vaccine. The form defines the specific medical conditions for which an exemption applies. A staff member seeking an exemption on medical grounds is required to provide the COVID-19 vaccine medical contraindication form.

Services should ensure they have a policy in place to address how they respond to staff with medical contraindications – this may include:

  • Review the medical contraindication form to check that the health condition meets the contraindication criteria set out in NSW Health advice and ATAGI criteria.
  • Undertaking a risk assessment to ensure the health and safety of the staff member concerned and others on site.
  • Follow up with the medical practitioner if it appears the medical condition does not meet the contraindication criteria. You should seek consent from the staff member before contacting their medical practitioner.

What do the public health orders say about mandatory vaccines for staff?

The NSW Government has advised that all early childhood education and care staff are required to have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccination to ensure the health and safety of our early childhood education and care community. A Public Health Order has been signed to reflect this requirement.

This includes all service types:

  • Preschool
  • Long day care
  • Family day care
  • Outside school hours care
  • Vacation care
  • Mobile services
  • Occasional care

Under the PHO, the Minister for Health directs that an education and care worker must not carry out relevant work unless the worker:

  1. has had 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, or
  2. has been issued with a medical contraindication certificate.

Vaccination evidence

Evidence for an education and care worker includes:

Family Day Care residences

Family Day Care residences must not open unless adult residents are vaccinated. The relevant approved provider must ensure the residence is not open to provide education or care to any child unless each adult resident has:

How can ECE staff access vaccines?

To check your eligibility and book an appointment at a location near you, use the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker on the Australian Government website. More information on COVID-19 vaccination, including translated information, is available from NSW Health.

You can also book an appointment through the NSW Health website.

Staff in regional NSW are encouraged to need to regularly check the eligibility checker. New appointments are regularly being added in regional NSW. In addition,  staff can:  

NSW Health vaccination clinics and participating general practices and pharmacies across the state are open for COVID-19 vaccination bookings. NSW Health is also providing  walk-in centres in some locations where no appointments are required. 

What are my rights with regards to mandatory vaccinations?

It is an employee obligation and is a condition of employment to seek out a COVID-19 vaccination unless a medical exemption applies.

A collaborative approach in the workplace that includes discussing, planning and facilitating COVID-19 vaccinations is an important part of Australia’s vaccine rollout, because having a vaccine is one of the best ways to protect ourselves and our community against COVID-19.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has prepared information with regards to vaccinations and the workplace. This includes:

You can read more here.

What if I don’t want to be vaccinated?

COVID-19 is a serious disease with very high transmission rates. Getting vaccinated is the most important way that educators can protect themselves and the children in our services, and their communities from COVID-19. If you are not vaccinated you cannot continue to work in an ECEC setting.

Can a worker be exempt from this requirement?

Workers may be exempt from the vaccination requirement if they have a medical certificate from a medical practitioner in the form approved by the NSW Chief Health Officer that certifies that because of a specified medical contraindication, the person cannot have a COVID-19 vaccine.

What happens if an employee is not vaccinated by the mandated date, or refuses to get vaccinated?

If your employee falls under the requirements of the public health order but has not had required vaccinations, or has not obtained a medical contraindication certificate, they will not be able to attend their workplace.

Further information on COVID-19, health and safety and vaccinations in the workplace is available from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Can I stand an employee down for not being vaccinated?

Further information on COVID-19, health and safety, vaccinations in the workplace and employer obligations in relation to their employees is available from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Who may request evidence of a worker’s COVID-19 vaccination status?

Under the current public health order, the following people may request evidence of the vaccination status of an employee who lives or works in an LGA of concern:

  • The worker’s employer,
  • The occupier of the workers place of work,
  • A police officer, or
  • An authorised person (under the Public Health Act 2010).

What if I’m pregnant or have an underlying medical condition?

Under the current public health order, all early childhood education and care educators and staff must be able to provide their employer:

The following groups can provide immunisation medical exemptions:

  • general practitioners (GP) registered as a specialist in General Practice with the Medical Board of Australia
  • vocational registered GPs who have general registration with the Medical Board of Australia
  • general practice registrars on an approved 3GA training placement
  • paediatricians
  • public health physicians
  • infectious diseases physicians
  • clinical immunologists.

You can find out more about immunisation medical exemptions on the Services Australia website.

How does mandatory vaccination apply to me if I have previously had COVID-19?

According to the latest clinical guidance from ATAGI, past infection with SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) does not mean you cannot be vaccinated. It is recommended that vaccination be deferred for up to six months after the acute illness in those who have had confirmed COVID-19.

If someone wishes to have vaccination earlier than 6 months, they may have a discussion about the risks and benefits with their healthcare provider. If vaccination is deferred, a medical practitioner is able to authorise a temporary exemption from vaccination by completing a NSW COVID-19 vaccine medical contraindication form. This can be used for services in the LGAs of concern where vaccination will be mandatory from 19 September.

Who is covered by the vaccination requirement? Does it include volunteers?

All workers who attend a NSW public school, preschool or early childhood education providers for their work must be fully vaccinated.

This includes:

  • any staff members who work in an early childhood setting
  • out of school hours care, canteen and uniform shop staff
  • contractors working on a school site in close proximity to students and staff (whether engaged by a school or not)
  • volunteers
  • department staff undertaking regulatory activities in schools, preschools or other early childhood education settings.

What are the vaccination requirements for emergency staff?

Requirements to be vaccinated do not apply to workers who need to visit early childhood sites during an emergency.

An emergency is defined as:

  • A serious, unexpected and dangerous situation.
  • An event posing an immediate and serious risk to the operation of the early childhood premise and to the children and staff in that premise.

An emergency in an early childhood setting might include a medical emergency, a fire, a gas leak, or a fault with the sewerage system for example.

Only vaccinated workers can attend where the situation is not an emergency.

Why do the changes to community settings not impact vaccination requirements for ECE?

Despite the change in community settings on 15 December, the Public Health Order around education and care vaccinations will still be in force requiring all educators and staff in ECE settings to be fully vaccinated, given the high risk of transmission in ECE.

This includes for all:

  • staff working on site
  • volunteers working on site
  • contractors, maintenance staff cleaners and all other works who are on site.

We strongly encourage services to continue following their COVID-safe practices in ECE settings to minimise the risk of transmission.

Who should receive a booster vaccination and when?

Vaccinations continue to be our best defence against COVID-19. NSW Health have updated their advice around booster vaccinations which can now be given 5 or more months after your first 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 booster vaccines are highly recommended to protect you, your loved ones and your community against COVID-19.

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