Learn from Novak Djokovic’s Case: What is Health Exemption and How Do We Get It?
One of the hottest topics now is Novak Djokovic’s visa cancellation due to not meeting the health exemption requirements. The world’s best tennis player was scheduled to play in the Australian Open after receiving certification of a medical exemption from vaccination from the Tournament organisation on the ground that he had recently recovered from COVID, and is it true that people with certain medical conditions can enter Australia without being vaccinated by getting a health exemption?
Let’s find it out below.
Health Exemption for Novak Djokovic Was Cancelled
Novak Djokovic, the world’s #1 ranked tennis player, initially planned to compete in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park this month after being granted a visa with health exemption.
The player excitedly travelled to Melbourne, and when he landed in the country, his visa was suddenly cancelled. Despite being allowed to compete in the tournament due to a COVID-19 vaccine exemption from the Victorian state government, Scott Morrison claimed Djokovic did not meet the requirement to enter the country.
People who have not been vaccinated must show documentation that they cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons, or they will be removed.
Djokovic has not stated if he has gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, but it is largely assumed that he has not.
He announced earlier on social media that he had secured a medical exemption allowing him to compete in the grand slam. However, Djokovic was questioned by border officials for many hours after arriving in Australia around 11.20 p.m. on Wednesday.
The tennis player was transferred from Melbourne’s airport to a nearby quarantine facility before boarding a flight out of the country.
Find more articles about Travel Exemption here.
What is Health Exemption?
The Australian Government has reopened the international border since the middle of December 2021 for fully vaccinated travellers. However, the Government realised certain people with specific medical conditions might not be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination, so the Government has special arrangements in place.
According to the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation or ATAGI, very few circumstances in which a vaccine is contraindicated; thus, the medical exemption is unlikely to be necessary. Additionally, the health exemption is applicable temporarily.
However suppose you have a medical condition and cannot get COVID-19 vaccination, in that case, your medical contraindication must be recorded in the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR), and you can show your Australian COVID-19 digital certificate to the airline staff. Otherwise, you can show your immunisation history statement.
If your medical contraindication is not recorded in the AIR, you must show your medical certificate that indicates you cannot be vaccinated. Your medical certificate must be in English and include below information:
- Your name matches your travel identification documents;
- Date of medical consultation and details of your medical practitioner;
- Details that acknowledge your medical condition which do not enable you to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
Recognised Health Condition According to ATAGI
According to ATAGI, the below conditions are recognised for a temporary health exemption:
- A significant medical issue requires immediate attention, such as requiring extensive surgery.
- Any significant side effect linked to a previous dosage of the COVID-19 vaccination.
- There was evidence of a PCR-confirmed COVID-19 infection in the prior six months.
- If a person’s developmental or mental health issue makes them a risk to themselves or others during the immunisation procedure.
The following conditions are not recognised as valid reasons for health exemption:
- Mild illness without fever—meaning your temperature is below 38.5ºC;
- Any family history of adverse events following immunisation;
- History of convulsions;
- Treatment with antibiotics;
- Treatment with locally acting steroids, inhaled or low dose topical;
- Replacement corticosteroids;
- Asthma, eczema, atopy, hay fever or sniffles;
- 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;
- A child is being breastfed;
- Woman is breastfeeding;
- Recent or planned surgery.
Application for Medical Exemption
If you are in one of the conditions above and would like to get a medical exemption, please see the following.
The Australian Government provides an online form that should be completed and submitted online using the form upload function in HPOS. However, only eligible health professionals can use this form. The qualified health professionals are:
- Practice registrar on an approved 3GA training placement
- Public health physician
- Infectious diseases physician
- Clinical immunologist
General practitioners defined by the Health Insurance Act 1973 are also eligible to use the form:
- Fellows of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
- Fellows of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
- On Medicare’s Vocation Register of General Practitioners
Meaning, if you want to apply for a health exemption, you must have an appointment with your GP regarding your medical condition. Your GP will submit the form, so the vaccination contraindication will be recorded in the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). You will get the health exemption if you are eligible.
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