Medical exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine

Posted Tuesday September 07, 2021

Posted By: Emily Ngo

Category: General

To: Emergency Departments, Travel Clinics, Walk-In Clinics, Ottawa Physicians, Nurse Practitioners
Date: September 3, 2021
From: Dr. Trevor Arnason, Associate Medical Officer of Health (AMOH), COVID-19 Vaccine, Ottawa Public Health, Dr. Brent Moloughney, Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Ottawa Public Health

Dear Colleagues,

Physicians and healthcare providers can expect an increase in requests for letters stating a medical exemption to COVID-19 vaccination exists, due to the provincial announcement that residents of Ontario will need to show proof of immunization to access public spaces such as gyms, movie theatres and indoor dining at restaurants as of Sept. 22nd. Additionally, many workplaces are enacting their own specific vaccination policies that may permit medical exemptions.

On September 1st, 2021 the Registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) issued a statement on medical exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine.

Ottawa Public Health would like to reiterate the College of Physician and Surgeon’s message that “generally speaking, there are very few acceptable medical exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccination” and exemptions to the mRNA covid vaccines almost exclusively fall into two categories at this time:

  • An allergist/immunologist-confirmed severe allergy or anaphylactic reaction to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or to any of its components that cannot be mitigated;
  • A diagnosed episode of myocarditis/pericarditis after receipt of an mRNA vaccine.

Ottawa Public Health does not issue notes or exemption statements to vaccination policies or the provincial vaccine certificate (proof of vaccination). Notes for medical exemptions should always be written by a treating physician or nurse practitioner. The CPSO requires that notes/letters written for patients who qualify for a medical exemption need to clearly specify:

  • The reason they cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19 (i.e., document clear medical information that supports the exemption); and
  • The effective time period for the medical reason (i.e., permanent or time-limited).

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