Mandate anxiety won’t qualify for vaccine exemption

November 22, 2021 BY

Only a vanishingly small number of people cannot receive one of the COVID-19 vaccines, such as Moderna. Photo: BARWON HEALTH

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is warning patients they will not receive a COVID-19 vaccine exemption from their GP on the grounds of anxiety over vaccine mandates.

The warning follows an anti-vaxxer group encouraging people to seek a vaccine exemption on the grounds of “acute major anxiety caused by the threat of a mandatory medical procedure”.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s (ATAGI) Expanded Guidance, which was prepared to support completion of an immunisation exemption form, notes that exemptions can be granted for “acute major medical illness”, which ATAGI describes as undergoing major surgery or hospital admission for a serious illness.

Anxiety is not listed as a condition for vaccine exemption.

RACGP president Dr Karen Price said the ploy would not succeed.

“You will not receive an exemption from your GP if you report anxiety about the vaccine mandate.

“Anxiety is taken extremely seriously by GPs, and we are here to help any patient who presents with this condition or any other mental health issue. However, anxiety about the vaccine mandate is not grounds for an exemption.

“Instead of seeking an exemption, why not talk to your GP about the concerns you have? We are experts in providing evidence-based information, GPs do this every day for other vaccinations and it’s a key part of our day-to-day job.

“Vaccine mandates may restrict employment opportunities for some unvaccinated people, but no individual will ever be forcibly vaccinated.”

She said vaccine exemptions would not be freely handed out to patients.

“Only a vanishingly small number of people cannot receive one of the COVID-19 vaccines due to what we call ‘contraindications’.

“You will be granted an exemption to the AstraZeneca vaccine if you have a history of capillary leak syndrome, or a serious adverse event attributed to a first dose of the vaccine. You will receive an exemption for Pfizer or Moderna if you have experienced anaphylaxis or any other serious adverse event following a first dose of an mRNA vaccine.

“You will not be granted an exemption if you have a history of heart disease or stroke; in fact it is extra important that you get vaccinated right away.

“There are some ingredients in each vaccine that can cause anaphylaxis for people with a very particular allergy. However, the chances of you being allergic to ingredients in all available vaccines, and therefore exempt from receiving any COVID-19 vaccine, is miniscule.

“So even if you do have a contraindication to one vaccine, other vaccine options are available. Only a fraction of the overall population should be granted a COVID-19 vaccine exemption and, even then, some people will only have a temporary contraindication.”

Dr Price said people should heed the advice of their GP rather than anti-vaxxer groups.

“Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19. Not only that, by getting vaccinated you can help limit community transmission and protect more vulnerable groups, including older people, the severely immunocompromised and children under 12 who cannot yet receive a vaccine.”

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