Applying for Medical Exemption from Vaccination
The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/891) were made on 22 July 2021 and come into force on 11 November 2021. The regulations, which apply in England only, require workers deployed in Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulated care homes in England to be fully vaccinated unless they are exempt.
One of the exemptions from the requirement for vaccination is for those that are unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons. At present there is a system of self-certification for those that have a medical exemption but the operational guidance has now been updated to provide details of the process for applying for medical exemption from a medical practitioner.
Self-certification will remain valid until 24th December 2021, but from 25th December onwards employees will be required to obtain formal medical exemption and utilise the NHS Covid Pass system.
In order to obtain medical exemption the employee must:
- Call the NHS Covid Pass service on 119 and request a medical exemption form.
- The exemption form cannot be requested or obtained directly from the GP
- If eligible, an exemption form will be posted to the employee for completion.
- The completed form should be sent to the relevant GP or specialist identified on the form.
- The GP, specialist or midwife will review the application and a result will be produced within 2-3 weeks.
- Automatic notification of the result will be provided and there will be no need to contact the GP directly.
- An exemption letter will be provided with details of the reason for the exemption but this will not be contained within the Covid Pass.
There are limited grounds of eligibility for exemption and those detailed in the guidance include:
- Where the employee is undergoing end of life care and vaccination is not in their best interests
- Employees with learning disabilities or autism or a combination of impairments where vaccination cannot be provided through reasonable adjustments
- Severe allergies to current vaccines
- Adverse reaction to first vaccine dose
- Other conditions may be eligible but are not specified
It will be possible to obtain short term exemptions. Whilst vaccination remains recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women it may be possible to obtain a short-term exemption using the MATB1 certificate or through the exemption application process but any period of exemption would expire 16 weeks post-partum
Employers should now ensure that their staff that are medically exempt commence the process of formally applying for exemption in order to ensure that full certificates are in place before the deadline of 24th December 2021.
Author: Sarah Edwards, Senior Employment Law Solicitor