COVID-19: Guidance on the requirements for implementation of a Policy Respecting Mandatory Vaccination

This guidance material is intended to provide recommendations and guidance on the operationalization of Transport Canada’s Interim Order, Interim Order Respecting Certain Requirements for Civil Aviation Due to COVID-19, No. 44.

Important Caveat: Nothing in this guidance document supersedes any requirement or obligation outlined in Transport Canada’s Interim Order. It is meant to complement these legal documents and provide recommendations and guidance on how to understand and carry out the requirements.

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Section 1 – General

Purpose of this Guidance Document

The purpose of this guidance document is to outline the requirements under the Transport Canada Interim Order No. 43 related to the Federal Vaccination Mandate as it pertains to the implementation of a policy respecting mandatory vaccination. Advice, guidance, and sample templates are included to facilitate the implementation.

What is the Federal Vaccination Mandate?

While the pandemic has had a devastating impact on Canada’s transportation sector, public health measures have been critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Additional measures are needed to ensure the safety and security of Canada’s transportation system and facilitate the resumption of safe travel. A requirement for employers in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors is to establish vaccination policies for their employees to enhance the safety of the Canadian transportation system, and help give Canadians the confidence to resume travel, while still adhering to public health measures.

Policy Respecting Mandatory Vaccination

Operators of an aerodrome at specified aerodromes (see Annex A) are required to establish an aerodrome-wide comprehensive policy respecting mandatory COVID-19 vaccination by October 30, 2021. Aerodrome-wide policies are needed to ensure the safe operation of the aviation system, recognizing that relevant employees (e.g. employees critical to support this function) must be adequately protected.

NAV CANADA and air carriers (CAR subpart 703, 704, 705) with operations at specified aerodromes (see Annex A) are required to establish and implement a policy respecting mandatory vaccination by October 30, 2021, to ensure all relevant employees are protected from COVID-19. This is imperative in order to ensure that these companies take into account the various risks associated with all of their operations and how the various workflows and employees interact with each other. NAV CANADA and air carriers should review the provisions related to implementing either the comprehensive or targeted policies and the subsequent implications on their operations. Targeted vaccination policies apply to relevant employees only (but with additional measures required for segregation and reporting, whereas a comprehensive policy apply to all employees, regardless of their location/site and the nature of their work.

As a basic guideline for establishing and administering company vaccination policies, employers are encouraged to refer to the Treasury Board Framework for the Implementation of the Policy on COVID-19 Vaccination for the Core Public Administration:
https://www.canada.ca/en/government/publicservice/covid-19/vaccination-public-service/framework-implementation-policy-covid-19-vaccination-cpa-including-rcmp.html

Key Dates:

The following key dates apply to comprehensive and targeted mandatory vaccination policies.

Date Requirement

October 30, 2021

  • Vaccination Policies required to be in place

November 15, 2021

  • All [relevant] employees must have received their first vaccine dose, and those who are not fully vaccinated must have an accommodation approved their employer.
  • [Relevant] employees who are not fully vaccinated to be tested* at least twice per week until they are fully vaccinated

January 24, 2022

  • All [relevant] employees must be fully vaccinated, unless exempt from requirement

January 25, 2022

  • Companies must remove aerodrome access privileges for [relevant] employees who remain unvaccinated and who are not exempt from the requirement to be vaccinated

Section 2 – Application

The following entities are required to implement a Policy Respecting Mandatory Vaccination:

  • Operators of aerodromes on the specific list (see Annex A);

  • Air carriers who operate at aerodromes listed on Annex A; and

  • NAV CANADA at locations where NAV CANADA provides civil air navigation services.

    Note: Air carriers and NAV CANADA have the option to implement a comprehensive mandatory vaccination policy, or have a targeted policy respecting mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, focused on relevant employees (defined below), with mandatory reporting requirements.

The term "relevant employees" means:

  1. an employee of the regulated entity;

  2. an employee of a contractor or an agent of the regulated entity;

  3. an individual hired by the regulated entity to provide a service;

  4. a tenant or an employee of the entity’s tenant, if the property that is subject to the tenancy is part of aerodrome property;

  5. an individual permitted by the regulated entity to access a specified aerodrome or, in the case of NAV CANADA, a location at which NAV CANADA conducts operations related to commercial flights.

    and

  1. conducting or directly supporting operations that are related to commercial flights — such as aircraft refueling services, aircraft maintenance and repair services, baggage handling, supply services for the operator of an aerodrome, an air carrier or NAV CANADA, runway and taxiway maintenance services or de-icing services — and that take place in aerodrome property or a location at which NAV CANADA conducts operations related to civil air navigation services;

  2. interacting in-person in aerodrome property with a person who intends to board an aircraft for a flight;

  3. engaging in tasks intended to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19, in relevant aerodrome property or a location at which NAV CANADA conducts operations related to civil air navigation services; and

  4. accessing the restricted area of an aerodrome listed in Annex A.

The term ‘’aerodrome property’’ means any air terminal buildings, restricted areas or facilities used for activities related to aircraft operations that are located at the aerodrome.

The requirement to have a Policy Respecting Mandatory Vaccination (Comprehensive or Targeted) is not applicable to: cargo operators, secure supply chain participants, private operators (CAR subpart 604), general aviation, aerial work (CAR subpart 702). Operators will, however, need to verify whether their employees/contractors working in the restricted area of an aerodrome listed in (Annex A) would need to be vaccinated as a result of the future measures (Interim Order #44 – measures for restricted area management expected to come into force on November 15, 2021) or as indicated under an aerodrome policy.

Section 3 – Requirements of the Comprehensive Policy Respecting Mandatory Vaccination

As outlined in Transport Canada’s Interim Order, operators of aerodromes are required to have a comprehensive vaccination policy established by November 15th, which includes the requirement for mandatory vaccination of all relevant employees, unless exempt. Air carriers and NAV CANADA can choose to implement a comprehensive mandatory vaccination policy, or can instead implement a targeted policy respecting mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, which includes reporting requirements (at least once a week and upon request).

The comprehensive vaccination policy must include the following elements, as outlined in the Interim Order:

  • General Requirement: A requirement for all relevant employees to be fully vaccinated by November 15, 2021, following the Public Health Agency of Canada’s standard, unless they meet the requirements for an exemption.
  • Granting exemptions: general guidance for granting (or denying) an exemption is noted below (e.g., medical, religious or first dose exemptions). Please refer to Annex B for specific considerations when assessing exemption requests.
    • Is the form complete (e.g., no empty required fields)?
    • Is the request form that was submitted the proper form that the employee should have used (e.g. what is pointed to in the aerodrome vaccination policy)?
    • For medical exemptions, does it indicate that the signing authority is a doctor or nurse practitioner? For example, it is not a chiropractor, physiotherapist or other medical professional that is seemingly not in a position to diagnose the medical condition, to the best of the knowledge of the employer.
    • For religious exemptions, the commissioner of oaths is seemingly valid (e.g., there is an official-looking stamp on the form).
    • For the first dose exemption, the date on the form that specifies the first dose is before November 15, 2021.
  • Issuing exemptions: The Interim Order requires that employers provide for a procedure to grant exemptions from the requirement to be fully vaccinated in very limited circumstances, namely if the person has not completed a COVID-19 vaccination regime due to a medical contraindication, the person’s sincerely held religious beliefs, or if they are only partially vaccinated (e.g., have received one dose of a two dose vaccine regimen). This includes explaining how the employee will receive their approved exemption form and instructions to ensure they are in possession of Part 2 of the exemption form (See Annex C for medical exemption form, Annex D for the religious exemption form and Annex E for the first dose exemption form) at all times when passing through a screening checkpoint or access point, as this is their official proof of exemption.

    Please refer to Annex B for specific considerations around issuing exemptions.

  • Testing protocols for exempt employees: A process for ensuring those that are granted an exemption follow the associated testing protocols, which involves being testing twice a week or showing proof of a valid positive test result that is at least 14 days but not more than 180 days old. Employees need to be aware of where and when they are to report for testing and how the results will be communicated, in addition to steps to take should they test positive.
  • COVID-19 molecular testing: A process to ensure if an employee tests positive for COVID-19 using any test other than a COVID-19 molecular test (e.g., if a rapid antigen test was used) that they must then obtain a COVID-19 molecular test result to confirm the diagnosis (as molecular tests have been proven to be the most accurate at diagnosing COVID-19).
  • Accessing aerodrome property: A process for ensuring that any employee who obtains a positive COVID-19 molecular test result is not allowed on relevant aerodrome property (any air terminal buildings, restricted areas or facilities used for activities related to aerodrome operations that are located at the aerodrome) for at least 14 days (unless they are still exhibiting symptoms, which means they are not allowed on aerodrome property until the symptoms are gone even if this is beyond 14 days since testing positive).
  • Exemption following positive test result: A process for ensuring that once an employee tests positive for COVID-19 using a molecular test, has waited at least 14 days and is no longer symptomatic, they will be exempt from the at least twice a week testing requirements until they get to day 180 following their initial positive molecular test result (as their positive test is valid until that time as lingering amounts of the virus could remain in their system despite having recovered and not being contagious). A process will need to be in place to flag that once the 180 days is complete, the at least twice a week testing resumes.

Section 4 – Requirements for Targeted Mandatory Vaccination Policy (Relevant Employees)

Air operators and NAV CANADA have the option to implement a targeted policy respecting mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, which will ensure that all relevant employees are vaccinated (instead of a comprehensive policy respecting mandatory COVID-19 vaccination that is company-wide) before accessing aerodrome property. Supplemental elements in their policy, including a weekly reporting requirement, must be added to ensure the relevant employees are not exposed to the risk of COVID-19 in their respective organizations by other employees.

This will allow for employees who are not directly in the aerodrome environment (e.g., working in a call-centre in another city, individuals conducting virtual training sessions with employees) or interacting in person with those working on aerodrome property to have a separate set of policies that are applicable to them, given the operational context.

Note: even if air operators or NAV CANADA choose to implement a targeted policy respecting mandatory COVID-19 vaccination to meet the regulatory requirement, Transport Canada still strongly encourages having a vaccination policy for non-relevant employees.

The targeted policy respecting mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, must include the following elements (same requirements for the comprehensive policy respecting mandatory COVID-19 vaccination that were described above), as outlined in Transport Canada’s Interim Order; however, the policy applies to relevant employees only. While the full definition is included above, this generally means employees that work in the aerodrome on aerodrome property, including those who require access to the restricted area.

  • General requirement: A requirement for all relevant employee to be fully vaccinated by November 15, 2021, following the Public Health Agency of Canada’s standard, before accessing aerodrome property.
  • Granting exemptions: A process for granting (or denying) an exemption for relevant employees based on the exemptions noted below (e.g., medical, religious or first dose exemptions).
  • Issuing exemptions: A process for issuing the exemption to a relevant employee that confirms (or denies) the exemption. This includes explaining how the relevant employees will receive their approved exemption form and instructions to ensure they are in possession of Part 2 of the form at all times when passing through a screening checkpoint.
  • Testing protocols for exempt employees: A process for ensuring those that are granted an exemption follows the associated testing protocols, which involves being tested at least twice a week or showing proof of a valid positive test result that is at least 14 days but not more than 180 days old.
  • COVID-19 molecular testing: A process to ensure if a relevant employee tests positive for COVID-19 using any test other than a COVID-19 molecular test (e.g., if a rapid antigen test was used) that they must then obtain a COVID-19 molecular test result to confirm the diagnosis (as molecular tests have been proven to be the most accurate at diagnosing COVID-19).
  • Accessing aerodrome property: A process for ensuring that all relevant employee who obtains a positive COVID-19 molecular test result is not allowed on aerodrome property (any air terminal buildings, restricted areas or facilities used for activities related to aircraft operations that are located at the aerodrome) for 14 days (unless they are still exhibiting symptoms, which means they are not allowed on aerodrome property until the symptoms are gone even if this is beyond 14 days since testing positive).
  • Exemption following positive test result: A process for ensuring that once any relevant employee tests positive for COVID-19 using a molecular test, has waited 14 days and is no longer symptomatic, they will be exempt from the at least twice a week testing requirements until they get to day 180 following their initial positive molecular test result (as their positive test is valid until that time as lingering amounts of the virus may remain in their system despite having recovered and not being contagious).

The following additional elements (i.e. those that go above and beyond the requirements of the comprehensive policy respecting mandatory COVID-19 vaccination) must also be included in the targeted policy respecting mandatory COVID-19 vaccination:

  • Reducing the exposure risk: A process for reducing the risk that an unvaccinated employee who has not been granted an exemption may expose a relevant employee to COVID-19 due to an in-person interaction. These risk mitigation measures may include:
    • broader vaccination policies beyond relevant employees;
    • wearing masks;
    • physical distancing; and
    • limiting or reducing the duration of in-person meetings.

    Other best practices that may be considered to reduce the exposure risk of COVID-19 can be found here: Public Health Agency of Canada – How business and employees can stay safe while operating during COVID-19.

  • Contact Tracing - establish a procedure for collecting the following information with respect to an in-person interaction related to commercial flight operations between a relevant employee and an employee who is unvaccinated and has not been granted an exemption under paragraph or whose vaccination status is unknown. The following information needs to be collected:
    • the time, date and location of the interaction, and
    • contact information for the relevant person and the other person.

    While contact tracing can be challenging, it is absolutely essential in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Further information on contact tracing is available here: Updated: Public health management of cases and contacts associated with COVID-19 - Canada.ca

  • Reporting Requirements - procedures to collect the following information and to provide this information to the Minister upon request are required. Note: this information must be retained for 12 months.
    • The number of instances in which an air operator / NAV CANADA was made aware that a relevant employee tested positive for COVID-19 due to an in-person interaction with an unvaccinated (non-exempt) employee, the number of relevant employees tested as a result of this instance, the results of those additional relevant employee COVID-19 tests, and a description of any impact on commercial flight operations.
    • The total number of relevant employees (e.g. those that meet the definition noted in the Interim Order and included above).
    • The total number of relevant employees that require access to the restricted area (include any relevant employees who require access for any reason, even if for brief periods, to conduct their duties).
    • The number of relevant employees that are:
      • 1) fully vaccinated (as per the PHAC standard for Canada);
      • 2) that have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (when 2 doses are required to be deemed fully vaccinated); and
      • 3) are unvaccinated.
    • The number of hours during which relevant employees were unable to fulfill their duties related to commercial flights due to COVID-19. This would include a relevant employee that is unvaccinated and did not meet an exemption, therefore they are not able to access the airport property to conduct their duties.
    • The number of relevant persons who have been granted an exemption (e.g., medical, religious or first dose exemption).
    • The number of relevant employees who refuse to comply with the following provisions of the policy respecting mandatory vaccination: the requirement to be fully vaccinated or to have an approved exemption, to get tested at least twice a week if an exemption applies, to obtain a molecular COVID-19 test to get an official diagnosis if they test positive using a non-molecular COVID-19 test, and to not access aerodrome property for at least 14 days (and beyond if necessary, until asymptomatic) following a positive COVID-19 molecular test result.
    • The number of relevant employees who were denied boarding, due to a refusal to comply with the following provisions of the policy respecting mandatory vaccination: the requirement to be fully vaccinated or to have an approved exemption, to get tested at least twice a week if an exemption applies, to obtain a molecular COVID-19 test to get an official diagnosis if they test positive using a non-molecular COVID-19 test, and to not access aerodrome property for at least 14 days (and beyond if necessary, until asymptomatic) following a positive COVID-19 molecular test result.
    • The number of unvaccinated employees who have not been granted an exemption (e.g., medical, religious or first dose exemptions) or whose vaccination status is unknown that interact in-person with relevant employees with respect to commercial flight operations. These mitigation measures that are required to reduce the exposure risk of COVID-19 due to in-person interactions between unvaccinated employees and relevant employees may also be requested.
    • The number of instances in which an air operator / NAV CANADA was made aware that a relevant employee tested positive for COVID-19 due to an in-person interaction with an unvaccinated (non-exempt) employee, the number of relevant employees tested as a result of this instance, the results of those additional relevant employee COVID-19 tests, and a description of any impact on commercial flight operations.

How reporting will work: the required data will be reported to Transport Canada via a multi-modal portal. More details will follow on this shortly.

Annex A – List of Specified Airports in Canada

#

Airport Name

ICAO

1

Abbotsford

CYXX

2

Alma

CYTF

3

Bagotville

CYBG

4

Baie-Comeau

CYBC

5

Bathurst

CZBF

6

Brandon

CYBR

7

Calgary International

CYYC

8

Campbell River

CYBL

9

Castlegar

CYCG

10

Charlo

CYCL

11

Charlottetown

CYYG

12

Chibougamau / Chapis

CYMT

13

Chruchill Falls

CZUM

14

Comox

CYQQ

15

Cranbrook

CYXC

16

Dawson Creek

CYDQ

17

Deer Lake

CYDF

18

Edmonton International

CYEG

19

Fort McMurray

CYMM

20

Fort St. John

CYXJ

21

Fredericton International

CYFC

22

Gander International

CYQX

23

Gaspé

CYGP

24

Goose Bay

CYYR

25

Grand Prairie

CYQU

26

Greater Moncton International

CYQM

27

Halifax (Robert L. Stanfield International)

CYHZ

28

Hamilton

CYHM

29

Iles-de-la-Madeleine

CYGR

30

Iqaluit

CYFB

31

Kamloops

CYKA

32

Kelowna

CYLW

33

Kingston

CYGK

34

Kitchener / Waterloo Regional

CYKF

35

La Grande Rivière

CYGL

36

Lethbridge

CYQL

37

Lloydminster

CYLL

38

London

CYXU

39

Lourdes-de-Blanc-Sablon

CYBX

40

Medicine Hat

CYXH

41

Mont-Joli

CYYY

42

Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport

CYUL

43

Nanaimo

CYCD

44

North Bay

CYYB

45

Ottawa (Macdonald-Cartier International)

CYOW

46

Penticton

CYYF

47

Prince Albert

CYPA

48

Prince George

CYXS

49

Prince Rupert

CYPR

50

Québec International (Jean Lesage International)

CYQB

51

Quesnel

CYQZ

52

Red Deer Regional

CYQF

53

Regina

CYQR

54

Rivière-Rouge (Mont-Tremblant International)

CYFJ

55

Rouyn-Noranda

CYUY

56

Saint John

CYSJ

57

Sarnia (Chris Hadfield)

CYZR

58

Saskatoon (John G. Diefenbaker International)

CYXE

59

Sault Ste. Marie

CYAM

60

Sept-Îles

CYZV

61

Smithers

CYYD

62

St. Anthony

CYAY

63

St. John’s International

CYYT

64

Stephenville

CYJT

65

Sudbury

CYSB

66

Sydney

CYQY

67

Terrace

CYXT

68

Thompson

CYTH

69

Thunder Bay

CYQT

70

Timmins

CYTS

71

Toronto (City Centre)

CYTZ

72

Toronto (Lester B/ Pearson International)

CYYZ

73

Toronto/Buttonville Municipal

CYKZ

74

Val-d’Or

CYVO

75

Vancouver International

CYVR

76

Victoria International

CYYJ

77

Wabush

CYWK

78

Whitehorse International

CYXY

79

Williams Lake

CYWL

80

Windsor

CYQG

81

Winnipeg (James Armstrong Richardson International)

CYWG

82

Yellowknife

CYZF

Annex B – Considerations around issuing employee exemptions to the Vaccination Policy

Further considerations – Medical Exemption:

It is important to stay abreast of National Advisory Committee on immunization (NACI) guidance on COVID-19 vaccines, which is based on current evidence:
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/immunization/national-advisory-committee-on-immunization-naci/recommendations-use-covid-19-vaccines/summary-october-22-2021.html

At present, the Medical Exemption form tracks three specific categories under which to make a certified request for exemption on medical grounds, namely if the individual:

  • 1) Has a medical contraindication to full vaccination against COVID-19 with mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines) based on recommendation of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (as follows based on NACI advice as of September 10, 2021), and whether the condition is permanent or time limited and in effect until a certain date:
    • History of anaphylaxis after previous administration of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine
    • Confirmed allergy to polyethylene glycol (PEG) which is found in the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines
      (Note: that if the patient is allergic to tromethamine which is found in Moderna, they can receive the Pfizer-BioNTech product)
  • 2) Has a medical reason for delay of full vaccination against COVID-19 as described by the NACI (as follows based on NACI advice as of September 10, 2021), and how long that reason is in effect:
    • A History of myocarditis/pericarditis following the first dose of an mRNA vaccine
    • Due to an immunocompromising condition or medication, waiting to vaccinate when immune response can be maximized (i.e., waiting to vaccinate when immunocompromised state / medication is lower)
      (Note: Consideration should be given to benefit/risk when vaccination is delayed)
  • 3) Has a medical reason precluding full vaccination against COVID-19 not covered above, a description of the reason, and whether that reason is permanent or time-limited and in effect until a certain date.

Further Considerations – Religious Grounds:

Leaders and members of a number of religions (e.g., Islam, Roman Catholicism (English subtitles), Judaism, Greek Orthodox, Mennonites, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science) have released public statements indicating their support for the COVID-19 vaccine specifically in the interest of public health.

Nevertheless, an individual may hold a strongly held religious belief that prevents full vaccination.

As an additional reference, the Government of Canada has provided guidance with respect to how it will evaluate requests for accommodation on the ground of religion, as follows:
https://www.canada.ca/en/government/publicservice/covid-19/vaccination-public-service/framework-implementation-policy-covid-19-vaccination-cpa-including-rcmp.html

Each request is to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Managers should consider the information provided by the employee to substantiate the request for accommodation based on religion. The information must clearly demonstrate the following three elements:

  • a) That the belief is religious in nature:
    • Religion typically involves a particular and comprehensive system of faith and worship as well as the belief in a divine, superhuman or controlling power (e.g., “I don’t believe in vaccination” would not in itself be a reason).
    • It does not apply to beliefs, convictions or practices that are secular, socially based or only conscientiously held; nor does it protect false empirical beliefs about the development, the contents, effects, or purpose of the vaccines.
    • Note: it is not necessary for the employee to prove that the religious belief is objectively recognized as valid by other members of the same religion or that it is required by official religious dogma or is in conformity with the position of religious officials (e.g., confirmation by a priest, rabbi, imam or other spiritual leader).
  • b) That the belief prevents full vaccination
    • The information provided by the employee must demonstrate how the religious belief prevents vaccination.
    • It is not sufficient for the employee to say they have a certain religious belief and they cannot be vaccinated. They must explain how vaccination would conflict with their religious belief in a way that is not trivial or insubstantial (i.e. being vaccinated conflicts with the employee’s genuine connection with the divine).
  • c) That it is sincerely held:
    • Where the employee provides a sworn affidavit, this can be a sign of the sincerity of the belief since this becomes a record with legal standing. Swearing a false affidavit is a serious offence and would constitute breach of the company/operator’s Values and Ethics Code (often a Term and Condition of Employment) and could result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. The seriousness with which an affidavit is sworn before a Commissioner of Oaths is a safeguard of the accuracy of the information contained within.
    • Factors that indicate whether the belief is sincere could include: the overall credibility of the employee’s statement as well as the consistency of the belief with the employee’s other current religious practices (it is, however, inappropriate to rigorously focus on past religious practices since these can evolve over time).

One the rigorous assessment is complete, and the employee has provided acceptable attestations, the company can complete part 2 of the relevant exemption forms so that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) or the airport authority is not required to verify proof of vaccination for those being exempted for one of the following reasons: medical, religious, or partially vaccinated.

Further Consideration - First Dose Exemption

If an employee provides proof that they have received the first dose of a two dose vaccine regimen of a Public Health Agency of Canada approved vaccine, by November 15, 2021, they should be considered for this exemption.

Please refer to the following link for more information:
https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/drugs-vaccines-treatments/vaccines.html

Annex C – Medical Exemption Request Form

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Annex D – Religious Exemption Request Form

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Annex E – Partially Vaccinated Exemption Request Form

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