On September 14, 2021, the Ontario Ministry of Health (“MOH) released its guidance setting out the list of all possible medical exemptions for COVID-19 vaccination.
The list of potential exemptions is very short and essentially limited to three categories:
- Pre-existing Conditions (“PECs”). PECs are limited to severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis to a component of a COVID-19 vaccine or myocarditis (e. inflammation of the heart muscle).
- Adverse Events Following Immunization (“AEFIs”). AEFI’s include medical events that only became known following the first attempt to immunize. An AEFI does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the use of a vaccine.
- Temporary Contraindications (“TCs”): TCs are time-limited medical exemptions. The only TCs recognized by the MOH are for those individuals actively receiving monoclonal antibody therapy or convalescent plasma therapy for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.
In addition, while individuals may have pre-existing medical conditions which prevent them from taking the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Ministry of Health states that an mRNA vaccine is a safe substitute. In most cases, there is a safe vaccination option even for those individuals with a PEC or AEFI.
Importantly, the MOH states that individuals claiming a medical exemption should be examined by a “specialist based on [the] adverse event / medical condition” (e.g. allergist / immunologist, cardiologist, ER physician, etc.). As a result, it is unlikely that family doctors will be qualified to certify a medical exemption based on current MOH guidance.
According to the MOH, there are very limited circumstances under which an individual cannot receive any COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, the MOH guidance states “[t]rue medical exemptions are expected to be infrequent and should be supported by expert consultation”.
If your Corporation has implemented a vaccination policy for use of amenities and/or its workers (which we strongly suggest), any requests for accommodation on the basis of a medical exemption should be scrutinized. The Corporation may be entitled to seek further medical documentation from an expert to support the individual’s claim for a medical exemption. A vague note from a family doctor or generalist will not suffice.
Special thanks to Ryan Edmonds, whose firm works closely with Lash Condo Law on various condo human rights and employment related matters.