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Requirements for workers in healthcare settings

Workers in a healthcare setting (COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements) Direction

Overview

To protect the health of Queenslanders, any worker in healthcare who enters, works in or performs services in a healthcare setting must have the prescribed doses to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by 15 December 2021.

Who is a worker in healthcare?

A worker in healthcare for the purposes of vaccination includes:

  • anyone in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme
  • all self-regulated allied health professionals
  • other allied health service providers whose services are eligible for a Medicare or private health insurance rebate
  • contractors or independent third-party providers of services or supplies
  • all other individuals who work in healthcare
  • other healthcare, support services and personal care
  • disability support services, including personal care
  • a dentist.

What is a healthcare facility or setting?

A healthcare facility or setting is any premises where healthcare is provided.

Examples of a healthcare setting include:

  • public hospitals, public health clinics, ambulance services, patient transport services, and other health services
  • private health facilities, such as private hospitals or day procedure centres or specialist outpatient services
  • residential aged care facilities
  • shared disability accommodation services
  • private provider facilities, such as general practitioners, private nurse offices and allied health consulting offices, pharmacies, optometrists, dental surgeries and private pathology centres
  • not for profit health organisations providing public healthcare under a service agreement with any State or Commonwealth agency, including an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Service
  • Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) delivering healthcare services, for example Alcohol and other Drugs residential rehabilitation and treatment services, hospital and other public healthcare services on a Hospital and Health Service campus, such as integrated mental health Step-Up Step-Down models
  • education settings within a healthcare setting
  • outreach services in other health settings provided by public, private, residential aged care or shared disability accommodation facilities, including in-home healthcare services
  • Australian Red Cross Lifeblood collection centres
  • in home delivery of intensive disability support services
  • aged care services funded by the Australian Government and delivered in the home
  • school based healthcare, including in special schools
  • healthcare services provided in other settings such as gyms.

Vaccination requirements

Any healthcare worker who enters, works in, or provides services in a private healthcare facility or setting must have received the prescribed number of vaccination doses by 15 December 2021, or an earlier date required for a particular cohort.

If you are already required to be vaccinated by an earlier date under another public health direction or the Health Employment Directive, you must be vaccinated by that date.

After each dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, you must provide evidence of complying with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements to your employer and the nominated responsible person for the healthcare facility or setting as soon as possible.

Providing evidence of vaccination

You should provide evidence of meeting the vaccination requirements as soon as reasonably possible after each dose you receive of a COVID-19 vaccine to your employer, and any other nominated responsible person for keeping records of COVID-19 vaccination for workers at the healthcare facility.

There are 3 different types of proof available that you can get for free:

  • a COVID-19 digital certificate
  • your immunisation history statement (IHS)
  • an International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate for overseas travel.

The COVID-19 Digital Certificate or IHS can be viewed and/or printed through:

What if I am not able to be vaccinated?

If a worker in healthcare is unable to be vaccinated for COVID-19 due to a medical contraindication you must provide a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner stating the medical contraindication to your employer and the nominated responsible person for the healthcare facility.

If the time period for the medical contraindication is temporary:

  • the timeframe for the medical contraindication must be specified on the medical certificate
  • if the medical contraindication continues beyond the specified period, you must provide a new medical certificate from your medical practitioner.

You can continue to work in a healthcare facility if you are not vaccinated because of medical contraindication, if the healthcare setting assesses the risk and allows it, but you must comply with the following rules to reduce your risk of transmitting COVID-19:

  • use personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements consistent with the PPE guideline and COVID safe plans
  • produce a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result each day before the start of your shift.

Requirements for employers of workers in healthcare at healthcare settings

Any employer that employs, contracts or otherwise engages a worker at a healthcare setting should inform the worker of the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and must:

  • take all reasonable steps to ensure that the worker does not work or provide services at a healthcare facility if they have not met the vaccination requirements, or the PPE and daily COVID-19 testing requirements if they are unable to be vaccinated and the employer allows them to continue working
  • the employer must keep a record of COVID-19 vaccine information reported to them by their workers in a healthcare setting and store it securely.

Responsibilities of a responsible person

A responsible person for a healthcare setting means the person legally responsible for employing or engaging healthcare workers and for monitoring their access to those locations.

The responsible person includes a licensee, operator or chief executive, or their delegate in a healthcare setting.

An emergency officer can require a responsible person, a healthcare worker, or a healthcare worker’s employer to comply with additional directions if the officer believes the direction is reasonably necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

For full details read the Workers in a healthcare setting (COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements) Direction.

Questions and answers about requirements for workers in healthcare settings

Who is considered a worker in healthcare?

Anyone who works in, undertakes an educational placement in, or volunteers in a healthcare setting is a worker in healthcare.

Some examples of workers who are considered workers in healthcare settings for mandatory vaccination requirements include:

  • a doctor who has consulting rooms at a   private hospital and their receptionist
  • a Visiting Medical Officer (VMO)
  • kitchen staff
  • an administration officer
  • an employee of a company that supplies   and services medical equipment under a contractual arrangement with a   hospital
  • an agency nurse engaged for relief work in a specialist outpatient   service
  • volunteers who assist visitors in a   healthcare setting, including volunteers engaged by Health Consumers   Queensland that provide face to face advice and support services across the   health system in Queensland
  • exercise physiologists providing   healthcare services in a gym
  • an employee of a community pharmacy
  • Chaplains visiting patients in a   hospital or other healthcare setting
  • Teachers in a hospital or other   healthcare setting
  • Hospital clowns
  • Florist or coffee shop employees in a   healthcare setting
  • Support worker in supported independent   living
  • NDIS funded psychologist or   occupational therapist providing in home support for an NDIS participant’s   wellbeing (whether a registered or unregistered NDIS provider)
  • Non NDIS support person that provides   in home assistance to a young person in residential aged care
  • A dentist in a dental clinic.

A person who provides healthcare services outside a healthcare setting and who does not enter, work in or provide services in a healthcare setting is not a worker in healthcare.

For example, call centre staff who are not located at a hospital or other premises that provides health services may provide advice but are not in a healthcare setting.

What are the vaccination requirements for new employees in healthcare settings?

If you start a new role as a healthcare worker in a healthcare setting after 15 December 2021, you must have the prescribed dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and provide evidence of that to your employer and the healthcare setting.

Can I continue to work if I am not fully vaccinated by 15 December 2021?

By 15 December 2021, if you do not have the prescribed dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, you cannot work in a healthcare setting.

If you are not vaccinated because of a medical contraindication you can only work in a healthcare setting if you provide a medical certificate from your doctor stating the medical contraindication, and the healthcare setting assesses the risk and allows you to continue working. You must also comply with the following requirements:

  • use personal   protective equipment (PPE) consistent with the Personal   Protective equipment guideline and COVID safe plans
  • produce   a daily negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result before each work shift.

There are very limited medical contraindications that prevent someone from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. Guidance published by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) provides information about contraindications in relation to the use of a particular COVID-19 vaccine.

There may be a circumstance of an emergency or critical workforce shortage situation, as determined by the healthcare setting, that is impacting the delivery of care where an unvaccinated person is able to work. These situations would be rare.

I have been called in to a healthcare facility for an emergency, but I am not vaccinated, can I enter the facility?

An unvaccinated healthcare worker who enters a healthcare facility to respond to an emergency must use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required by the PPE guideline.

Where you enter the healthcare setting for an emergency response, you must also notify your employer and the responsible person at the healthcare facility that you have done so and are unvaccinated.

The healthcare setting I manage is experiencing critical shortages of workers, and I am having difficulty finding vaccinated workers, what should I do?

The responsible person for a healthcare setting may permit a healthcare worker who is unvaccinated to enter, work in, or provide services in the facility for a short period, such as three months, if all of the following apply:

  • the responsible person has assessed the risk to other staff, patients   and other people accessing the healthcare setting
  • the responsible person reasonably believes it is necessary to respond   to a critical   workforce shortage
  • personal protective equipment is used by the healthcare worker in   compliance with the PPE guideline and any COVID safe plans for the healthcare   setting
  • a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result is   provided by the unvaccinated healthcare worker before starting each work   shift.

This allows the healthcare setting time to recruit or make alternative arrangements to ensure there are enough vaccinated workers to avoid ongoing worker shortages.

Questions about testing requirements for unvaccinated workers in healthcare

I’m unvaccinated, how do I get tested if I am working somewhere that does not have easy access to testing facilities?

There are multiple locations where workers in healthcare can be tested for COVID-19, including:

  • at their work facility when pathology staff are present
  • Queensland Health fever clinics
  • any other private pathology provider.

Can I visit a family member that is a patient, client or resident in a healthcare setting if I am an unvaccinated worker in healthcare?

A worker in healthcare who has not been vaccinated for COVID-19 may enter a healthcare setting in their personal or private capacity as:

  • a visitor of a   patient, client or resident of the healthcare setting
  • a parent or   guardian of a patient, client or resident
  • as a patient,   client or resident themselves.

However, if you are unvaccinated you must not enter, work in, or provide services as a healthcare worker, and must comply with all other required public health directions that apply to entering the healthcare setting where you are visiting or receiving services.

What should I do if I am an unvaccinated worker in healthcare and miss my daily test?

If you are unable to provide a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result before the start of your daily shift you are not able to attend work again until you can provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test result.

If you are having difficulty finding a testing location, you can visit a fever clinic.

What happens if I test positive?

If your test result is positive, you should notify your employer, stay away from the workplace and self-isolate. You will receive a call from our public health unit advising you on what to do next.

If you’re well enough to take care of yourself, you will need to stay in self-isolation until you recover. If your symptoms worsen, you may be admitted to hospital. Our public health unit will closely monitor your situation and wellbeing.

Find out more on what happens if you test positive to COVID-19.

If I have to quarantine or isolate, will I still be paid?

You should speak to your employer as they will be able to advise on their human resource policies regarding payment when quarantining.