Vaccination information

Published 27 August 2021

We are receiving many questions about COVID-19 vaccination however, many are about matters outside of our role of protecting the public.

While Ahpra and the National Boards regulate individual health practitioners, we don’t regulate the rollout of vaccines. That is being managed by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments.

We are supporting the COVID-19 vaccination rollout through a temporary pandemic response sub-register. More than 26,500 practitioners are on the sub-register and their practice is limited to helping with the vaccination rollout.

Vaccination is a crucial part of the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. National Boards strongly encourage all registered health practitioners and students (particularly those undertaking placements in various practice settings) to have the full COVID-19 vaccination course as scheduled unless medically contraindicated.

In some settings, governments are mandating vaccination for specific healthcare workers.

FAQs and statements helpful to registered health practitioners are available below.

Statements

Joint statement - Ahpra and the National Boards, HCCC, OHO and TGA

  • COVID-19 and vaccines: Get the best advice for you and your family
    Published 30 August 2021. Read the news item.

Joint statement - TGA and Ahpra

Vaccination position statement

Frequently asked questions

Updated 31 August 2021

Please check all profession information and Board-specific information for other COVID updates.

All practitioners

Updated 31 August 2021

Ahpra and National Boards regulate individual practitioners and not therapeutic goods, such as rapid antigen tests. Queries about rapid antigen testing, including who can administer these tests, should be directed to the Therapeutic Goods Administration which has published FAQs. State and territory government health departments have also published information about rapid antigen testing, such as who should be tested and how often.

Ahpra and National Boards regulate individual practitioners and not health services or state and territory health departments. Queries about public health orders mandating vaccination of frontline health workers or those who work at residential aged care facilities should be directed to the Commonwealth, state and territory governments as appropriate. Visit the relevant government website for information.

Aged care workers

Practitioners have a responsibility, as set out in the National Boards’ codes of conduct or their equivalent, to participate in efforts to promote the health of communities and meet obligations with respect to disease prevention which includes vaccination.

Vaccination is a crucial part of the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. National Boards strongly encourage all registered health practitioners and students (particularly those undertaking placements in various practice settings) to have the full COVID-19 vaccination course as scheduled unless medically contraindicated.

Vaccination of health practitioners and students serves specific purposes, including:

  • as health practitioners and students are members of the general community, vaccination will contribute to achieving the highest possible level of immunity across the community, and
  • vaccination will provide practitioners and students with a level of protection in relation to their own health if exposed to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 at work or elsewhere.

Read our COVID-19 vaccination position statement.

A health practitioner’s refusal to be vaccinated is not, of itself, a basis for regulatory action. If concerns about a practitioner are raised with Ahpra and the National Boards, we need to assess whether there is a likelihood of risk to the public that needs to be managed by regulatory action. We will review any public health orders issued by government and how they apply to practitioners, including any potential exemptions to vaccination such as being medically contraindicated. Information about how we manage concerns and assess risk is on the Ahpra website.

In the case of a conscientious objection about receiving COVID-19 vaccination, practitioners must inform their employer and/or other relevant colleagues (where necessary) of their objection as soon as reasonably practical.

While some health practitioners may have a conscientious objection to COVID-19 vaccination, all practitioners, including students on placement, must comply with local employer, health service or health department policies, procedures and guidelines relating to COVID-19 vaccination. Any queries about these should be directed to the individual employer, health service, state or territory health department and/or education provider for registered students.

 

Administration of vaccines

Published on 5 February 2021

Registered health practitioners who are trained, educated and competent in all aspects of vaccine management and administration and who are authorised under relevant state and territory drugs and poisons legislation (medicines legislation) can administer vaccinations including the COVID-19 vaccines.

These registered health practitioners are usually medical practitioners, often a general practitioner, nurse practitioners, midwives, registered nurses (RN) and enrolled nurses (EN) (under the supervision of an RN).

Pharmacists can also administer vaccines, if they have received the appropriate training and have the relevant authority in the state and territory where they practise. Information about whether pharmacists are authorised to administer a COVID-19 vaccine in the state and territory where they practise can be confirmed by contacting the local health department.

Some dental practitioners and paramedics can also administer injections, if they have received the appropriate education and training and are competent and have the relevant authority under medicines legislation in the state and territory within which they provide care.

Medical practitioners and nurse practitioners can authorise/order vaccinations including the COVID-19 vaccines.

There are some RNs and midwives who are qualified as immunisers and have been educated in all aspects of vaccine management, authorisation and administration and are approved, under relevant medicines legislation, to authorise and administer vaccinations. These practitioners work in areas such as nurse led immunisation clinics.

It is expected that the registered health practitioners who can authorise and/or administer COVID-19 vaccines will be required to complete additional training related to the handling and administration of the COVID-19 vaccines.

The Commonwealth Department of Health1   have partnered with the Australian College of Nursing to develop and deliver free and accredited training modules for individuals involved in the handling and administration of COVID-19 vaccines. There may be additional training programs developed by state or territory health departments.


1 Commonwealth Department of Health (2020). Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy. See: www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/about-covid-19-vaccines/australias-covid-19-vaccination-policy.

Ahpra and National Boards do not provide education or training for registered health practitioners, including vaccination training.

In preparation for Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, it is expected that registered health practitioners who can authorise and/or administer COVID-19 vaccines (and potentially other relevant persons) will need to complete additional training related to the handling and administration of the COVID-19 vaccines.

The Australian Government has partnered with the Australian College of Nursing to develop and deliver free and accredited training modules for individuals involved in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

As part of enrolling in these training modules registered health practitioners participating in the education must provide their Ahpra/National Board registration number at enrolment.

Questions about who is eligible for training, or what content the training covers, should be directed to the Commonwealth Department of Health.

To find out more go to the Australian Government’s COVID-19 Vaccine training program page.

 

Additional vaccination FAQs for nurses and midwives

Published on 5 February 2021

All RNs, ENs2 (under the supervision of an RN) and midwives may possess and administer vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccination, as part of their normal duties when they have an order from an authorised prescriber3.


2 Except enrolled nurses with a notation on their registration stating that they have not completed a course of medicine administration study or training.

3 Regulation 8(1) Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Regulations 2017.

If you are an RN or midwife and wish to be an immuniser on an ongoing basis you must complete a recognised immunisation education program.

In addition to the satisfactory completion of appropriate immunisation education and training, RNs and midwives must ensure they have current competence in vaccine administration.

Recognised immunisation programs for nurses and midwives include:

  • Australian Catholic University - Program for nurse immunisers.
  • Australian College of Nursing - Immunisation for Health Practitioners course.
  • Cunningham Centre - Immunisation Program Registered Nurse Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 course.
  • La Trobe University - Nurse immuniser program.
  • SA Health - Understanding Vaccines and the National Immunisation Program.
  • SA Health - Understanding Vaccines for Midwives and the National Immunisation Program.
  • University of Melbourne - Immunisation (nurse immuniser) course.
  • University of Southern Queensland - Immunisation nursing.
  • University of Tasmania - Immunisation education for registered nurses.

Please note this education is approved and managed by the health department in each state and territory and not the NMBA.

The NMBA does not require a specific endorsement to administer vaccinations; however, nurses and midwives must only practise activities, functions and responsibilities that they are educated, competent and authorised to perform. This is called scope of practice. It is the professional responsibility of all nurses and/or midwives to identify activities which may be beyond their scope of practice or competency and seek appropriate support or refer to another practitioner where necessary.

If you are an enrolled nurse, you must always work under the supervision of an RN. If you are an RN or midwife you do not need to be supervised when administering a vaccine unless your organisation requires this.

Nurses and midwives may seek to, or be asked to, change their context of clinical practice to support the COVID-19 vaccine roll out. Nurses and midwives should use their professional judgement to assess risk and determine what is reasonable in current circumstances and ensure they are safe and competent to practise, as able, in that changed context of practice.

Non-practising registration is a type of registration that is suitable for an individual who chooses to stop all nursing and/or midwifery practice but wishes – for personal rather than professional reasons – to retain a protected nursing and/or midwifery title. Nurses and/or midwives who hold non-practising registration are not permitted to practise their profession. This includes administering vaccinations.

You should contact the health department in your state or territory about helping with the COVID-19 vaccination program. The NMBA and Ahpra are not involved in the employment of nurses and midwives for the vaccination workforce.

 
 
 
Page reviewed 30/08/2021