Skip to main content

How to verify a legitimate COVID-19 vaccine exemption or deferral

Oct 13, 2021

BCCNM has received reports of illegitimate COVID-19 vaccine exemption and deferral letters circulating in the community that are being used by British Columbians who cannot show proof of vaccine through the province's BC Vaccine Card. In light of this, the college is issuing this guidance to assist members of the public who may be required to determine whether a vaccine exemption or deferral letter was legitimately issued by a nurse practitioner or physician.

Valid reasons for an exemption or deferral

According to the provincial hea​lth officer, the reasons outlined in the table below are the only valid reasons for a COVID-19 exemption or deferral. Legitimate exemption or deferral letters must state one of these valid reasons.

Vaccine type

Valid reason for exemption

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna)

COVID-19 viral vector vaccine

History of an anaphylactic reaction to components of both mRNA and adenovirus vector vaccine (i.e., polyethylene glycol and polysorbate 80)

Valid reason for deferral

Receipt of anti SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma for treatment or prevention of COVID-19 (except tocilizumab or sarilumab) – defer for at least 90 days

Diagnosis of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome  – defer until fully recovered from illness and for 90 days after the date of diagnosis

Physician-diagnosed myocarditis or pericarditis following the first dose with no other cause identified – defer until further information about the risk of recurrence is available.

Suspected hypersensitivity or non-anaphylactic allergy to COVID-19 vaccine components.

Serious adverse event following first dose of vaccine awaiting recommendation for further vaccination by the Medical Health Officer

Other important information to look for

Legitimate vaccine exemption or deferral documents issued by a nurse practitioner or physician must also have the following.

  • The patient's full name
  • The issuing nurse practitioner or physician's name and signature (digital signatures are not valid)

Who can issue vaccine exemptions and deferrals in BC?

Only nurse practitioners licensed and registered with BCCNM or physicians licensed and registered with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and can issue vaccine exemptions and deferrals in BC.

A nurse practitioner's registration status can be verified on the public register.

900 – 200 Granville St
Vancouver, BC  V6C 1S4

​Toll-free 1.866.880.7101 (within Canada only) ​

We acknowledge the rights and title of the First Nations on whose collective unceded territories encompass the land base colonially known as British Columbia. We give specific thanks to the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking peoples the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations and the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh-ulh Sníchim speaking Peoples the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), on whose unceded territories BCCNM’s office is located. We also give thanks for the medicines of these territories and recognize that laws, governance, and health systems tied to these lands and waters have existed here for over 9000 years.

We also acknowledge the unique and distinct rights, including rights to health and wellness, of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples from elsewhere in Canada who now live in British Columbia. As leaders in the settler health system, we acknowledge our responsibilities to these rights under international, national, and provincial law.​