Immunisation medical exemptions for health professionals

Only certain doctors can provide immunisation medical exemptions.

Providing immunisation medical exemptions

The following groups are eligible to provide immunisation medical exemptions:

  • general practitioners—defined by the Health Insurance Act 1973 as:
    • fellows of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
    • fellows of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
    • on Medicare’s Vocational Register of General Practitioners
  • general practice registrars on an approved 3GA training placement
  • paediatricians
  • public health physicians
  • infectious diseases physicians
  • clinical immunologists

Other health professionals are not eligible to certify medical exemptions.

Reasons for immunisation medical exemptions

Doctors must give us a valid medical reason for a medical exemption.

The Department of Health’s Australian Immunisation Handbook lists valid medical reasons for immunisation medical exemptions.

The valid reasons for immunisation medical exemptions are:

  • medical contraindication – use the Australian Immunisation Handbook guidelines to help you decide if a patient should be exempt from immunisation due to an approved medical condition, or
  • natural immunity – in your professional opinion, your patient doesn’t need a vaccine because they have a natural immunity to the disease. Having a natural immunity to disease means they don’t need to get that vaccine to be considered up to date with their vaccinations

There are only 2 absolute medical contraindications that apply to all vaccines:

  • anaphylaxis following a previous dose of the relevant vaccine
  • anaphylaxis following any component of the relevant vaccine

These are not valid medical reasons for an immunisation medical exemption:

  • mild illness without fever – temperature below 38.5ºC
  • family history of any adverse events following immunisation
  • past history of convulsions
  • treatment with antibiotics
  • treatment with locally acting steroids – inhaled or low-dose topical steroids
  • replacement corticosteroids
  • asthma, eczema, atopy, hay fever or ‘snuffles’
  • previous infection with the same pathogen
  • prematurity – vaccination shouldn’t be postponed and can be given if the infant is medically stable
  • history of neonatal jaundice
  • low weight in an otherwise healthy child
  • neurological conditions, including cerebral palsy and Down syndrome
  • contact with an infectious disease
  • child’s mother is pregnant
  • child is being breastfed
  • woman is breastfeeding
  • recent or imminent surgery
  • poorly documented vaccination history

For more information check the Australian Immunisation Handbook (Table 2.1.4).

Recording immunisation medical exemptions on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)

Eligible doctors can tell us about a medical contraindication or natural immunity by:

Eligible doctors must identify:

  • the medical contraindication
  • which vaccines your patient can’t have
  • if the contraindication is temporary or permanent, or
  • which vaccines aren’t needed due to natural immunity

If a patient has a valid immunisation medical exemption recorded on the AIR, it will display on their Immunisation History Statement.

Parents and guardians may use the medical exemption to meet immunisation requirements for some family assistance payments and child care or school enrolment.

An incomplete, invalid or unsigned notification will be returned to you.

Giving false or misleading information is a serious offence under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). We regularly undertake audits and make enquiries to make sure people get correct payments. If we become aware of any false or misleading information or fraudulent activity, the Commonwealth will pursue the relevant person(s) to the extent permitted by law.

Read more about the Australian Immunisation Register for Health Professionals

Page last updated: 20 September 2018