Government reminds public not to use Medical Exemption Certificates obtained through improper means
The Government today (September 6) appealed to members of the public again for getting themselves self-protection through administration of COVID-19 vaccines as soon as practicable. A Government spokesman said that the current epidemic situation in Hong Kong is dire and the new daily caseload has reached five-digit figures. Members of the public are exposing themselves to risks of infection and even severe illness and death if they are not deemed unsuitable for vaccination because of health reasons and have yet to get vaccinated. Furthermore, it is an offence to use a Medical Exemption Certificate obtained through improper means. The defendant is liable to imprisonment upon conviction. Members of the public are urged not to defy the law.
The spokesman pointed out that, based on scientific evidence and real-world experience gained from hundreds of millions of vaccinated people overseas and locally, it is proven that most people are suitable for receiving the CoronaVac and Comirnaty vaccines currently provided in Hong Kong. Both vaccines are able to reduce the risks of severe illness and death arising from COVID-19 infection in a safe and efficacious manner.
Doctors are allowed to issue Medical Exemption Certificates under the arrangement of the “Vaccine Pass” simply to cater for an extremely small number of people who are unsuitable for receiving the vaccine due to health reasons. The fact is that these individuals are actually being exposed to a higher risk for not having been vaccinated.
The Department of Health (DH) has issued to doctors detailed guidelines listing the medical reasons for being not suitable for vaccination. Doctors should only issue the Exemption Certificate after verifying that the person concerned is not suitable to receive the two aforementioned vaccines. When considering the issuance of Exemption Certificates, doctors are required to refer to the guidelines issued by the DH and follow the Code of Professional Conduct for the Guidance of Registered Medical Practitioners when making clinical judgements to decide whether a patient’s condition satisfies the listed medical reasons for not being suitable for vaccination.
The Government reiterated that boosting the vaccination rate is of paramount importance for strengthening the intactness of the immunity barrier, as well as effectively safeguarding the health of citizens, in particular the elderly, the young and the chronically ill. It is also vital to the resumption of economic activities and daily life for the Hong Kong community and citizens. Using fraudulent Medical Exemption Certificates in an attempt to enter premises subject to “Vaccine Pass” including catering premises and scheduled premises is an extremely irresponsible act.
The Government will continue to closely monitor the issuance of Medical Exemption Certificates by doctors. If any irregularities, contravention of the Code of Professional Conduct for the Guidance of Registered Medical Practitioners or criminal acts are noticed, the Government will take strict enforcement actions and pass relevant information such as suspected cases of fraudulent Medical Exemption Certificates to the Medical Council of Hong Kong or enforcement departments for follow-up as appropriate.
The spokesman cautioned that the making or issuance of a false instrument is a criminal offence. Meanwhile, using a false instrument knowingly may contravene the Crimes Ordinance. The maximum penalty for both offences upon conviction is imprisonment for 14 years. Members of the public are urged not to defy the law and not to use Medical Exemption Certificates obtained through improper means.