Ontario doctors and care providers are being advised to be careful about handing out COVID-related vaccine exemptions. 

In light of yesterday’s provincial announcement, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) updated its Frequently Asked Questions for Physicians page informing doctors of what they need to know if a patient asks for an exemption. 

CPSO says doctors now have the right to say no to granting a patient an exemption if the patient making the request does not have a medical condition that warrants an exemption.

The college tells any physicians who find themselves in this situation to clearly and sensitively explain that you cannot provide them with a note or form, along with the reasons why. 

According to the college’s website, there are very few acceptable medical exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccination. 

Examples are an allergist or 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 or a diagnosed episode of myocarditis/pericarditis after receipt of an mRNA vaccine.

Given the rarity of these exceptions, and in light of the fact that vaccines have been proven to be both safe and effective, the college says any notes 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).

You can more information and frequently asked questions for physicians and patients on the CPSO’s website at cpso.on.ca