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New regulatory arrangements support businesses and health professionals to communicate and incentivise COVID-19 vaccination

7 June 2021

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has implemented arrangements to facilitate the communication of information about approved COVID-19 vaccines. These arrangements permit health professionals, businesses and media outlets to develop their own materials about TGA-approved COVID-19 vaccines. They also permit the offer of a range of rewards to people who have been fully vaccinated under the Government's COVID-19 vaccination program.

The new arrangements, which will be in place until the end of 2022, will give health professionals and Australian businesses more flexibility to contribute to the national conversation about vaccination. Health professionals can enhance vaccine uptake by publicly supporting vaccination and counter misinformation. Logistical information about when and where to be vaccinated can continue to be communicated.

Businesses can now supplement Government public health campaigns through offers of practical support (including rewards) that encourage Australians to be vaccinated.

Under the new arrangements, organisations can generate their own informational materials to support COVID-19 vaccination, provided the content is consistent with Government messaging and does not contain:

  • references to specific brands of vaccines, or compare different COVID-19 vaccines
  • statements that COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause harm or have no side effects
  • any statement that is false or misleading
  • promotion of any vaccine that has not been approved by the TGA.

Organisations are also able to offer rewards to people who have been fully vaccinated (i.e. have had two vaccinations) under the Australian Government's program. Such rewards can be monetary or for example, include store vouchers, discounts or frequent flyer points, but cannot include alcohol, tobacco or medicines (other than listed medicines).

It is up to the business or organisation providing the rewards to determine whether they are to be exclusively made available to their employees, or alternatively only members of a scheme (such as an automobile association or frequent flyer scheme) or to all Australians. However, any offer of a reward cannot be restricted to only those who have a vaccination after the reward has been announced. Any rewards offered must be made available to those who have already commenced their vaccination schedule.

These arrangements have been enabled by the Therapeutic Goods (Restricted Representations—COVID-19 Vaccines) Permission 2021 made on 4 June 2021. An amendment to the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code (No.2) 2018) has also been made to remove the requirement for self-developed advertising to comply with the Code, as the critical requirements have been covered in the above Permission.

Further information about these arrangements, including examples of acceptable advertising and communications will be available from 7 June in the guidance document Communicating about COVID-19 vaccines.

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