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Vaccination requirements for workers in high risk settings

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Workers in a high-risk setting Direction

Overview

Workers in some industries and high-risk settings must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

From 15 December 2021, this will include:

  • healthcare workers who enter healthcare settings, such as:
    • public hospitals
    • private hospitals
    • residential aged care facilities
    • shared disability accommodation services
    • aged care services
    • general practitioner offices
    • pharmacies
    • optometrists
    • dental surgeries
    • community health clinics
    • blood collection centres.

From 11:59pm 23 January 2022, this will also include:

  • workers entering education settings, including:
    • schools
    • kindergartens
    • childcare centres
  • workers entering correctional and detention facilities, including:
    • prisons
    • youth detention centres
  • workers entering airports.

Workers entering education, correctional and airport settings will also need to have received one dose of the vaccine by 17 December 2021.

These settings are all places:

  • where there is a higher risk of transmission of COVID-19, due to the nature of the setting and the way in which services are provided
  • that a high number of vulnerable persons use or access
  • where the impacts of COVID-19 cases or quarantine could unexpectedly reduce continuity of critical services to the community.

There are exceptions for emergency work, such as an unvaccinated plumber entering a school or café to perform emergency repairs to a burst pipe. If you do enter for an emergency, you’ll need to notify your employer and the owner or manager of the facility as soon as practicable that you are unvaccinated.

Visitors and residents

The requirement to be fully vaccinated does not apply to residents or patients of healthcare settings.

Read more about vaccination requirements for visitors to healthcare settings.

The requirement to be fully vaccinated does not apply to visitors to:

  • education settings
  • airports

Vaccination requirements

Any worker to whom the vaccination requirements apply must be fully vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated means having received two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

Providing evidence of vaccination

Fully vaccinated means having received two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

You should provide proof of your vaccination status to your employer as soon as reasonably possible after each dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 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 immunisation history statement can be viewed and/or printed through:

What if I am not able to be vaccinated?

If you’re unable to be vaccinated for COVID-19 due to a medical contraindication, you’ll need to provide evidence of this to your employer.

You’ll need a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner stating the medical contraindication. If your medical contraindication is temporary, your medical certificate will also need to state the time period it applies for, and you’ll need a new medical certificate if your contraindication continues beyond that date.

If you are not vaccinated because of medical contraindication, you can continue to work (if your employer assesses the risk and allows it), but you must:

  • 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.

In the healthcare setting, in an emergency or critical healthcare workforce shortage, where there are impacts on the delivery of services, an unvaccinated person may be able to work. These situations would be very rare and would be determined by the employer.

Requirements for employers

Note: the below only applies to workers as outlined in Direction “COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Workers in a high-risk setting Direction

Any employer that employs, contracts or engages a worker who must be fully vaccinated should inform the worker of the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and must:

  • take all reasonable steps to ensure that the worker does not work if they have not met the vaccination requirements (or the PPE and daily COVID-19 testing requirements if they are unable to be vaccinated)
  • keep a record of COVID-19 vaccination information reported to them by their workers, and store it securely.

If you manage a setting where only vaccinated people may work, and are experiencing critical workforce shortages, you can permit a worker who is unvaccinated to enter, work in, or provide services in the facility for a short time period, up to a month, if:

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

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

The section below describes who is included in each worker group, and their vaccination requirements.

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Who are workers in healthcare?

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

This is:

  • 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.

Examples 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 workers in supported independent living
  • NDIS funded psychologists or occupational therapists providing in-home support for an NDIS participant’s wellbeing (whether a registered or unregistered NDIS provider)
  • Non-NDIS support persons that provide 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 provide health advice, but are not located at a hospital or other premises that provides health services.

Healthcare settings

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

From 15 December 2021, workers in healthcare who enter healthcare settings must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

You need to provide evidence of your vaccination status to your employer and the healthcare setting.

If you start a new role as a healthcare worker in a healthcare setting after 15 December 2021, you must by fully vaccinated.

Who are workers in education settings?

Anyone who works in, undertakes an educational placement in, or volunteers in a school, early childhood centre (such as a kindergarten) or childcare centre is considered a worker in an education setting.

Examples include:

  • teachers
  • administration officers
  • an employee of a company that supplies services to an education setting, such as plumbing, electrical and building services
  • a contract teacher or early childhood instructor engaged for relief work
  • volunteers who assist in delivering support activities and services in  education settings such as tuckshop, reading programs, etc.
  • chaplains, entertainers or support workers visiting  education settings
  • university students on practical placement in  education settings
  • psychologists or therapists providing support for individuals in  education settings
  • a dentist in a school dental clinic.

Workers in higher educational facilities, such as universities, are not included in the vaccination mandate.

Vaccination requirements

From 17 December 2021, workers in education settings must have had one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and be fully vaccinated by 11:59pm on 23 January 2022.

You need to provide evidence of your vaccination status to your employer and the education setting.

If you start a new role in an education healthcare setting after 11:59pm on 23 January 2022, you must by fully vaccinated.

Visitors

The requirement to be fully vaccinated does not apply to visitors to education settings.

Who are workers in correctional settings?

Anyone who works in, undertakes an educational placement in, or volunteers in a correctional or detention facility – such as a prison or youth detention centre – is considered a worker in a correctional setting.

Examples include:

  • corrections or youth detention centre staff
  • medical officers, psychologists or mental health workers in a correctional setting
  • administrative staff in a correctional setting
  • teachers in a correctional setting
  • chaplains visiting correctional settings
  • support works, such as cleaning or landscaping staff, that work in a correctional setting
  • an employee of a company that supplies services to a correctional setting, such as plumbing, electrical and building services.

Vaccination requirements

From 17 December 2021, workers in correctional settings must have had one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and be fully vaccinated by 11:59pm on 23 January 2022.

You need to provide evidence of your vaccination status to your employer and the correctional setting.

If you start a new role in an correctional setting after 11:59pm on 23 January 2022, you must by fully vaccinated.

Visitors

Visitors to prisons will be required to be fully vaccinated by 17 December 2021.

Who are workers in airports?

Anyone who works in an airport terminal, or provides transport or carpark services primarily within the airport precinct, is considered a worker in an airport setting.

Examples include:

  • Queensland-based air crew
  • workers conducting health screening or other health services
  • workers conducting passport and border control, biosecurity and law enforcement
  • workers providing transport and carpark services within the airport precinct, where their principal place of work is the airport, including AirTrain™ workers who work primarily at the airport stations and airport transfer drivers who provide shuttles to and from the airport
  • those involved in customer service roles in the airport including staff in airport lounges
  • those providing terminal and airside services, including ground crew, freight staff, ground handlers, caterers, cleaners, ramp workers, baggage handlers, maintenance workers, engineers and security staff
  • workers engaged by a retail, car hire or food outlet in the airport terminal or in an adjoining carpark
  • volunteers (including Airport ambassadors) working in the airport terminal.

Workers in physically separate airport precincts, such as Brisbane’s Direct Factory Outlet (DFO) precinct, are not included in the vaccination mandate.

Taxi and rideshare drivers, who do some but not most of their work at the airport, are not included in the vaccine mandate. There are, however, requirements on drivers for endorsed transport providers.

Vaccination requirements

From 17 December 2021, workers in airport settings must have had one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and be fully vaccinated by 11:59pm on 23 January 2022.

You need to provide evidence of your vaccination status to your employer.

If you start a new role in an airport setting after 11:59pm on 23 January 2022, you must by fully vaccinated.

Further information