Procedures

Vaccinations and Immunisation - Procedures

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1.0    Purpose and Scope

This procedure supports The University of Queensland's (UQ or the University) Health, Safety and Wellness Policy in protecting the health, safety and wellness of our people by minimising the risk of vaccine-preventable disease (VPD) transmission occurring whilst working, volunteering, visiting or attending academic or research programs at UQ.

The application of this procedure is intended to reduce the risk not only for those within the scope of this procedure but also for the broader community affiliated with UQ (e.g. placement providers and their clients). It excludes controlled entities who manage the vaccination requirements for their industry independently. 

This procedure outlines responsibilities for Organisational Units, supervisors and managers and provides instruction for those who, due to the nature of their activities at the University, may be at higher risk of exposure to VPD.  This procedure should be read in conjunction with the associated UQ Vaccination and Immunisations Guidelines.

The UQ immunisation and disease screening website also provides important details regarding immunisation compliance processes.

1.1    Legal context

In addition to supporting other policies and procedures at UQ, the University must ensure compliance with relevant Commonwealth and State laws, and any government directives and guidelines that may apply, including but not limited to:

2.0    Process and Key Controls

  1. UQ requires all persons classified as UQ workers to be immunised and/or screened prior to commencing UQ work tasks or coursework that involve increased risk of exposure to VPDs. See Section 7 for definition of UQ workers for the purposes of this procedure.

  2. Immunisation and/or disease screening requirements must be identified to minimise the risk of VPDs.

    1. Risk assessments are required to identify workplace tasks/locations and/or student placement/coursework or other activities associated with an increased risk of acquisition and/or transmission of a VPD.

    2. UQ also has an obligation to comply with legal requirements and demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements from statutory bodies such as Queensland Health, and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ).   

  3. Information about additional risks of VPDs should be communicated to UQ workers and others well in advance of exposure to allow sufficient time for assessment and risk mitigation requirements to be met. Appropriate referral for immunisations/ screening should be communicated along with information regarding other preventative measures such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and training.

  4. Current and prospective UQ workers must ensure they receive the appropriate vaccinations or screening as identified for their engagement with UQ (e.g., work tasks, placements, study or other activities). 

  5. UQ workers must submit immunisation or disease screening evidence (evidence of vaccination or non-susceptibility) to UQ when requested prior to commencement/engagement in any activities with increased risk of VPD.

  6. Immunisation or screening evidence submissions from UQ staff and students must be verified for compliance by appropriately qualified assessors. All person’s compliance status must be available to those responsible for initiating the requests as well as the key contacts (supervisor, principal advisor, or faculty placement teams). Records must be processed and retained in a secure repository.

  7. Non-compliance with mandatory immunisation requirements may impact the person’s ability to fulfil the inherent requirements of their engagement with UQ (e.g. duties of their position or progression through their studies).  For some roles, programs, and placements, proof of vaccination or evidence that an individual is not susceptible to specified VPDs is a condition of employment/program progression and completion or engagement as required by UQ.

3.0    Key Requirements

3.1    Identifying VPD risk

Some occupations and program categories have been identified as likely to have an increased risk of acquisition or transmission of VPD.

These include:

  • Healthcare work or placements in Queensland Health (QH) or other clinical facilities.

  • Regular or frequent contact with clients who:

    • are immune compromised;

    • have a chronic health condition;

    • are pregnant;

    • are pre-school age; or

    • are elderly.

  • Education settings.

  • Laboratory or other activities involving human blood, body fluids or tissue.

  • Laboratory activities involving transmissible human or zoonotic pathogens.

  • Interaction with wastewater or sewage.

  • Contact with animals, animal blood, tissues, products or animal waste.

  • Contact with bats or Australian bat lyssavirus virus.

  • Interaction with pigs or poultry.

  • First aid.

  • Mortuary technicians and embalmers.

  • Healthcare provision in remote Indigenous communities.

  • Work related travel or field work activities.

The exact nature and requirements of the engagement with UQ must be considered when initiating immunisation requests to UQ workers, prospective workers, and students.  The requirements and recommendations for each category above are summarised in the following tables:

Further information on identifying VPD risks can be found from the following:

  • UQ Vaccinations and Immunisation Guidelines (Section 3 and 4).

  • The recruitment team, supervisor, principal advisor or program enrolment guidance information. 

  • The forms section of this procedure if a healthcare worker or healthcare worker student or if working in hospitals or other clinical facilities.

  • The relevant Institute, Faculty, School or Centre Health Safety Co-Ordinator or HSW Manager.

  • Safe working procedures in the work area including infection control measures to protect themselves and others in the workplace.

  • A risk assessment or Standard Operating Procedure prior to commencing activities involving biological material.

  • Laboratory entry requirements.

  • Biosafety approvals.

  • The UQ Biosafety Advisor or UQ Institutional Biosafety Committee if working with high-risk biological material.

  • The UQ Immunisation Records Team.

  • The UQ Immunisation and disease screening webpage.

  • A medical practitioner (e.g., UQ Health Care).

  • The Australian Immunisation Handbook.

  • A specialised travel clinic or medical practitioner for work or placement related travel.

3.2    Communicating immunisation and screening requirements

Immunisation and screening requirements must be effectively communicated to UQ workers well in advance of starting a workplace task or student placement where an increased risk of VPD has been identified.

3.2.1    Staff and Prospective Staff

Supervisors and/or managers are responsible for communicating and initiating immunisation requests for workers or students under their supervision, including visiting academics and affiliates. Safety network staff can assist in this process where appropriate.

For prospective staff, the HR Client Partnering team is responsible for obtaining advice from the new staff member’s supervisor or safety officer/manager to identify roles where pre-employment immunisation requirements will need to be considered during recruitment. 

Specific immunisation requirements relevant to new position descriptions must be established prior to the development of recruitment documents, with consideration of the timelines required for full vaccination.

Immunisation requirements relevant to an appointment at UQ must be included in recruitment advertising, position descriptions, and letters of offer as a condition of employment.

Other processes relevant to communicating requirements include:

  • New worker induction checklist (the online induction checklist links to the immunisation request workflow in UniTask)

  • Safe work procedures

  • Risk assessments

  • Laboratory entry requirements

  • Biosafety approvals.

3.2.2    Higher Degree by Research (HDR) and Other Research Students

Academic principal advisors or supervisors developing proposals for HDR or other research projects must consider as part of the project development, whether the prospective HDR candidates or research students will be subject to specific immunisation requirements relevant to the position or project. This must be communicated at enrolment or the earliest possible opportunity, in order to provide enough time for vaccination requirements to be completed. Safety network staff should assist in this process where appropriate.

Other processes relevant to communicating requirements include:

  • New worker induction checklist

  • Safe work procedures

  • Risk assessments

  • Laboratory entry requirements

  • Biosafety approvals.

3.2.3    Students – Undergraduate and Postgraduate Coursework

The relevant faculty is responsible for communicating immunisation and screening requirements to relevant students.  Communications should be conducted well in advance of the students' enrolment and commencement of study.   

3.2.4    Non-UQ Workers (Others) - Contractors, Sub-contractors, Consultants, Volunteers and other Non-paid Workers

The person engaging a non-UQ worker (not covered in sections 3.2.1 – 3.2.3) is responsible for advising them of any VPD risks they may face while undertaking work or activities for UQ or at a UQ location. Any additional risks of VPD acquisition or transmission associated with UQ work or other UQ activities must be communicated prior to the work or activities being undertaken. It is the supplier’s or individual’s responsibility to obtain the necessary vaccination/s to mitigate these risks and provide evidence of such to an authorised UQ staff member.

All vaccine or immunisation requirements covered under legislation or Government Directions must be adhered to prior to any work or activities commencing. The supplier or person is responsible for complying with the requirements and must be able to show evidence of vaccination if asked by an authorised UQ staff member or person in the work environment where the legislation or Direction applies.

3.3    Completing immunisation or disease screening

Individuals must action outstanding requirements with their medical practitioner or vaccination provider as soon as possible and well prior to exposure.

Medical advice should be sought prior to immunisation especially if they are pregnant or have any specific medical conditions. An appointment can be made with their own treating medical practitioner or at UQ Health Care for advice, immunisations, and screening tests.  

All individuals should protect themselves and the community by completing the current National Immunisation Program Schedule as recommended by the Australian Government Department of Health.

3.3.1    Sufficient time to complete requirements

Dependent on the worker’s immunisation or medical history, it can take some time to complete the identified occupational immunisation or screening requirements. This may be due to the minimal intervals required between immunisations and the amount of time required for immunisations to be effective.  

For example, those who may be exposed to human blood, tissue or body fluids in the course of their work or study are required by UQ be adequately immunised against hepatitis B and provide proof of immunity or evidence of non-susceptibility. The worker is advised to get medical advice as early as possible as the hepatitis B vaccination process can take up to 7 months to complete. Refer to section 4 of the associated UQ Vaccinations and Immunisation Guidelines.

Healthcare workers, other workers and healthcare students interacting in clinical areas of Queensland Health facilities or other health facilities must also be assessed for their risk of developing tuberculosis (TB) and becoming infectious in the future (i.e. screening for latent tuberculosis).  If latent TB screening is required, it can take up to 3 months for an appointment through the public health system. Refer to section 4 of the associated UQ Vaccinations and Immunisation Guidelines.

3.3.2    Costs

3.3.2.1    UQ staff and HDR Students

Prospective UQ staff are responsible for costs of vaccination and immunisation screening requirements if specified as a pre-employment or pre-placement requirement as outlined in the letter of offer.

For existing staff and HDR Students, the relevant Faculty, School or Centre is responsible for resourcing vaccinations and pathology tests (e.g. for proof of immunity) if required to prevent work-related transmission of VPD or are for work-related placements or travel.

3.3.2.2    Undergraduate and Post Graduate Coursework Students 

Costs for course related vaccinations and immunisation screening for undergraduate and post graduate coursework students are at the individual's expense.  Students may make an appointment with their own treating medical practitioner or at UQ Health Care for advice, immunisations and screening tests.

3.3.2.3    Non-UQ Workers (Others) - Contractors, Sub-contractors, Consultants, Volunteers, and other Non-paid Workers

Persons not employed by UQ must seek clarification on vaccination cost responsibilities prior to engaging with UQ. Contractors must comply as ‘prospective staff’, as they should consider costs as part of their business with UQ and others. 

3.4    Submission of evidence of immunisation

UQ workers must submit all requested immunisation/screening evidence for assessment and verification by the Immunisation Record Team (IRT) located in the Health, Safety and Wellness (HSW) Division.  A request for evidence must be initiated via the my.UQ system for the staff member or student by the relevant supervisor or Organisational Unit before documentation can be uploaded.

Supervisors, principal advisors, safety network staff and faculty placement teams can find information on initiating immunisation requests for students and staff in the UQ Immunisation and Disease webpage.  Also refer to Section 4.0 of this procedure.  

UQ workers will be advised of the format for providing the evidence via the my.UQ request. The my.UQ request will direct healthcare worker staff or students to the appropriate forms included in the forms section of this procedure.

A my.UQ request cannot be initiated for a UQ worker who does not have an active placement recorded in the payroll system or a student who does not have a Si-net profile. Contact immunisation@uq.edu.au for advice.

3.5    Verification of evidence

Compliance with the requested immunisation/screening evidence for UQ workers is assessed by the IRT which is supervised by registered nurses with additional immunisation qualifications. Records will either be verified as complete or additional evidence will be requested directly from the worker or student through my.UQ.  Records are assessed in accordance with the immunisation schedules as per the Australian Immunisation Handbook (AIH), legislative/legal requirements, and other government requirements (such as Queensland Health) and may be informed by advice from an Occupational Physician.   

The person/team who initiated the request for evidence as well as the key contact (supervisor/principal advisor/faculty placement team) will have visibility of the status of the verification process (case) in my.UQ.

UQ Reportal also contains reports to include the immunisation status for individual cases, cohorts and Organisational Units. Due to confidentiality considerations, access to UQ immunisation reports is limited.  Safety managers, compliance officers or the IRT can be contacted regarding staff reports. Placement/faculty compliance teams and the IRT have access to the student reports.   

3.6    Non-compliance

Failure to comply with relevant immunisation compliance requirements may lead to an increased risk of serious illness occurring to the individual and will therefore result in students or workers being denied placements or being unable to undertake tasks that place them or others at risk of VPD transmission.

3.6.1    UQ Workers

For persons classified as UQ staff, non-compliance with immunisation requirements or an inability to comply due to health reasons, may impact the ability to fulfil the requirements of the employment or placement position. In these circumstances supervisors should contact askhr@uq.edu.au or their local client services team (HR) for further advice.

3.6.2    Students

For some students, including HDR students, a personal choice not to comply or an inability to comply due to medical reasons, may result in a situation where the student is unable to complete the practical requirements of their degree or higher degree program and consequently unable to progress in their program of study. Further advice can be obtained by contacting the relevant Institute, Faculty or School.

4.0    Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

4.1    Heads of Organisational Units

Heads of Organisational Units must:

  • Ensure the effective communication and implementation of this procedure within their areas of responsibility.

  • Regularly review student program immunisation or disease screening requirements and consequence of non-compliance.

  • Ensure sufficient resources are available to enable compliance with the requirements of this procedure.

4.2    Supervisors, managers and academic principal advisors

Supervisors must inform HR Client Partnering (HRCP) about specific immunisation requirements relevant to new position descriptions prior to the development of recruitment documents.

Academic principal advisors developing proposals for HDR projects must consider as part of the project development, whether the prospective HDR candidates will be subject to specific immunisation requirements relevant to the position or project.

Supervisors, managers and academic principal advisors must:

  • Identify and risk assess roles and tasks where vaccination requirements will need to be considered. This includes others not employed by UQ. Refer to section 3.1 of this procedure.

  • Ensure persons under their supervision receive training in relation to preventative measures to reduce the risk of VPD exposure and transmission.

  • Ensure persons under their supervision are provided with adequate information and resources in relation to seeking appropriate vaccinations if relevant to their UQ activities.

  • Ensure a specific local site induction is provided to contracted workers prior to entering a workplace where a risk of infectious disease transmission exists (e.g., in laboratories where biological pathogen research is conducted or in UQ Veterinary clinics where there may be a risk of zoonotic disease transmission).

  • Ensure a request for immunisation compliance is submitted for UQ workers via a my.UQ/ My requests to ensure sufficient time for the immunisation verification workflow (including the time for the vaccinations to be effective), prior to the date of expected first exposure.

  • Ensure immunisation compliance status for individuals is tracked and followed up prior to exposure.

  • Continually review immunisation requirements if the nature of work or research tasks is subject to change.

4.3    HR Client Partnering (HRCP) and Talent Acquisition Teams

HRCP and Talent Acquisition Teams must:

  • Obtain advice from the new worker’s supervisor, safety officer/manager, or academic principal advisors to identify roles where pre-employment immunisation requirements will need to be considered during recruitment. 

  • Include immunisation requirements relevant to a position appointment in recruitment advertising, position descriptions and letters of offer as a condition of employment.

4.4    Faculty professional staff – Placement/ Academic Admin teams

Designated faculty professional staff must:

  • Ensure immunisation and screening requirements are communicated to relevant students via the appropriate channels.

  • Ensure a request for immunisation compliance is submitted to students via a my.UQ Request to ensure sufficient time for the immunisation verification workflow prior to the date of expected first exposure. Refer to section 3.4 of this procedure.

  • Ensure immunisation compliance is monitored and followed up according to expected first date of exposure.

4.5    Health Safety and Wellness Division and safety network staff

  • The HSW Division provides overall direction, advice and leadership to the University on work health and safety matters including relevant vaccination and screening requirements to minimise the likelihood of VPD exposure and transmission occurring in the workplace.

  • HSW Managers and local workplace health and safety co-ordinators (WHSC) are responsible for communicating information about transmissible disease hazards relevant to their Organisational Unit and for promoting and facilitating cooperation between workers, students and management in the implementation of this procedure and associated guideline.

  • The HSW Division administers the UQ Immunisation Records Team (IRT)

4.5.1    UQ Immunisation Records Team (IRT)

The IRT must:

  • Ensure immunisation records submitted by workers and students are appropriately assessed and verified for compliance relevant to the role or program, and in accordance with the Australian Immunisation Handbook and government requirements such as Queensland Health.

  • Seek advice from an Occupational Physician in situations where compliance is unclear. Refer students if medical advice is required. 

  • Ensure immunisation records provided by students and staff or submitted by faculties and Organisational Units remain confidential and are stored securely.

  • Ensure a system is in place to ensure the request initiator is kept informed of the compliance status for each immunisation/screening request.

  • Ensure immunisation compliance reports are available to the University and other relevant parties such as Queensland Health.

4.6    Current and prospective workers and students, and others

Individuals should protect themselves by completing the current National Immunisation Program Schedule as recommended by the Australian Government Department of Health.

All UQ workers and non-UQ workers (refer to section 7 definitions below) must comply with this procedure. 

In addition, UQ workers and prospective UQ workers must comply with safe working procedures including infection control measures to protect themselves and others in the workplace. This can be achieved by the following:

  • Identify appropriate occupational or program/coursework/placement immunisation requirements.  Refer to section 3.1 of this procedure.

  • Action outstanding immunisation and screening requirements with a medical practitioner or vaccination provider as early as possible. Refer to section 3.3 of this procedure.

  • Workers or students involved in School of Veterinary Science or other animal related programs must refer to the immunisation requirements for their program or work role and section 3.5 of the associated UQ Vaccinations and Immunisation Guidelines (e.g. Q-fever).

  • Healthcare workers, other workers and healthcare students (including HDR students) who interact in Queensland Health or other clinical facilities are subject to  the Queensland Health Vaccination of Healthcare Workers Guideline.  Refer to section 3.1 of the associated  UQ Vaccinations and Immunisation Guidelines and the forms section of this procedure to access the relevant worker or student immunisation record form.

  • Healthcare workers (HCWs) or HCW students who undertake 'exposure prone procedures' (EPP) as a requirement of their work or admitted program must also submit an EPP Declaration (signed by a medical practitioner) in relation to blood borne virus screening - see section 3 of the associated UQ Vaccinations and Immunisation Guidelines. The EPP declaration is included in the worker or student immunisation record forms in the forms section of this procedure. Submit evidence of vaccination and disease screening as requested. Refer to section 3.4 of this procedure.

  • Ensure that on-going compliance with vaccination/screening requirements is kept up to date e.g., blood borne virus screening or vaccination recall requirements for health care workers (e.g., ten yearly pertussis boosters, annual influenza where relevant) and tetanus boosters for animal and agricultural workers as recommended. See section 4 of the associated UQ Vaccinations and Immunisation Guidelines.

5.0    Monitoring, Review and Assurance

The initiator of immunisation requests and/or the key contact (supervisor, principal advisor, or faculty placement/administration teams) must track and follow up the compliance status of individuals prior to exposure. 

Organisational Units are encouraged to use UQ Reportal to monitor overall staff and student immunisation compliance and follow up non-compliance.

The HSW Division will facilitate reporting of immunisation compliance to Organisational Units on request and demonstrate compliance to other parties such as Queensland Health if required.

The HSW Division will review this procedure as required to ensure currency.  

6.0    Recording and Reporting

Information collected by UQ in relation to immunisation requirements is collected for health and safety purposes and to meet UQ’s legal compliance obligations.

Information may be disclosed to Queensland Health and/or other placement providers. UQ will not otherwise disclose this information to a third party without the worker’s or student’s consent unless such disclosure is authorised or required by law. For further information, refer to the UQ Privacy Management Policy.

A UQ worker failing to comply with immunisation requirements, or who has incomplete immunisation records, relevant to their role will be notified of outstanding immunisation compliance requirements.

UQ worker immunisation records will be retained by the University as required by law and in accordance with the General Retention and Disposal Schedule (GRDS) for staff and volunteers, and in accordance with the student records policy.

7.0    Appendix

7.1    Definitions

Australian Immunisation Handbook - Provides clinical advice for health professionals on the safest and most effective use of vaccines in their practice. These recommendations are developed by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). (https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/)

Controlled entities - As defined in the Controlled Entities Policy. A list of UQ Controlled Entities is available here.

Heads of Organisational Units – For the purposes of this policy, these roles provide leadership and direction of their portfolios (faculties, schools, institutes, divisions, companies (controlled entities), corporate functions etc).

HDR Students – Enrolled higher degree by research students at UQ.

Local managers and supervisors – For the purposes of this procedure, these roles report to the heads of organisational units and are intended to include all roles that manage groups of people or functional teams across UQ.

Non-UQ workers (others) – For the purposes of this procedure includes:

  • contractors, subcontractors and consultants;

  • volunteers - members of the community who donate their services in a voluntary capacity to UQ without expectation of remuneration. Volunteers include those undertaking work on fundraising and community-oriented projects, tertiary students wishing to gain exposure to particular UQ functions, among others.

Principal Advisors – Approved UQ staff members who take primary academic responsibility for the HDR candidate during their candidature. The Eligibility and Role of Higher Degree by Research Advisors Policy details the academic role, accountabilities and eligibility for Principal Advisors.

HR Client Partnering Team (HRPT) - Responsible for the provision of high level strategic and procedural direction and support on all facets of HR management to managers and staff within a Faculty or Institute.

Si-Net – The UQ business application that supports student related activities including admissions and enrolment.

Talent Acquisition – Responsible for recruitment, candidate care and recruitment contracts.  

UQ workers – For the purposes of this procedure includes:

  • staff - includes an employee of UQ employed on a continuing, fixed-term or casual basis.

  • students – includes undergraduate, post-graduate, masters, higher degree by research (HDR), coursework, and students undertaking work experience.

  • visiting academics and researchers;

  • affiliates - academic title-holders, visiting academics, emeritus professors, adjunct and honorary title‑holders, industry fellows and conjoint appointments.

Vaccination – The administration of a vaccine; if vaccination is successful, it results in immunity.

Zoonotic disease – A zoonotic disease is any disease or infection that is naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans. 

Custodians
Director, Health, Safety and Wellness Mr Jim Carmichael

Guidelines

Vaccinations and Immunisation - Guidelines

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1.0    Purpose and Scope

The information provided in this guideline is intended to assist in meeting the requirements outlined in the associated UQ Vaccinations and Immunisation Procedure.

This guideline provides:

  • General immunisation guidance.

  • Further guidance for individuals and workgroups who due to the nature of their activities at the University, are at higher risk of exposure to vaccine-preventable disease (VPD).

This guideline is intended to protect not only UQ workers but also the broader community. 

The information provided in this guideline does not replace the need for individual medical consultation. UQ workers who are pregnant or who have a serious illness or compromised immunity should also seek further medical advice.

Those working in specialised settings such as certain microbiological laboratories or infectious disease wards or those who are required to travel overseas to work should seek additional medical advice.

Additionally, all persons with a known infectious disease have a duty of care to minimise the risk of transmission, as much as possible, to other members of the University community and the general public.

Information about general and occupational vaccination recommendations is in accordance with the Australian Immunisation Handbook

UQ’s Immunisation and disease screening website provides further detail regarding UQ’s immunisation compliance processes.

2.0    Summary

The risk of vaccine-preventable disease (VPD) can be reduced by the following:

  • Individuals can protect themselves by completing the current Australian National Immunisation Program Schedule as well as any other vaccinations recommended by the Australian Government Department of Health. 

  • Those who are moving to Australia from overseas should seek medical advice prior to departure and bring relevant medical documentation with them.  On arrival it is advisable to also check with their Australian health care provider whether the vaccination schedule for their home country is equivalent to the Australian National Immunisation Program Schedule, as additional vaccinations may be advisable.

  • Those who have an increased risk of acquisition or transmission of a VPD due to the nature of their activities at UQ must be identified by supervisors, safety network staff or faculty teams (e.g. student placement or administration teams).  Appropriate training, information and resources must be provided to achieve effective infection control as well as the referral or recommendation of appropriate immunisation or disease screening where appropriate.

  • Additional consideration is required for those who are immune-compromised or pregnant in terms of exposure to pathogens or vaccines. General advice on these may be found in the Australian Immunisation Handbook.  Specific medical advice relevant to their own situation should be sought by the worker, student or visitor. 

  • Residential college students are strongly advised to review and update their vaccination status particularly as they are living in close quarters with others.

    • Vaccination against meningococcal disease is particularly recommended for adolescents and young adults.  Refer to section 4.7 of this guideline for information regarding the meningococcal ACWY and the meningococcal B vaccinations. 

    • Annual Influenza vaccination is also highly recommended for students living in residential accommodation.

    • Up to date COVID-19 vaccination is strongly recommended for students living in residential accommodation.

    • It is prudent to also ensure immunity to varicella and measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) in persons born in 1966 or later and entering University as outbreaks may occur. Refer to section 4.6 and 4.14 of this guideline.

  • Some UQ workers may need to undertake additional vaccination or screening due to overseas work or placement requirements.

3.0    UQ work, research or placements

A summary of UQ immunisation and disease screening requirements and recommendations related to roles, work locations, programs, or courses can be found here:

The exact nature of tasks or work location should be considered when deciding immunisation requirements to minimise the risk of VPD acquisition or transmission occurring.

Persons in the categories listed in this section must be provided with appropriate information and training and referred for relevant vaccination and/or immunisation screening before exposure to identified risk occurs.  

3.1    Healthcare related roles and placements

The University must ensure compliance with government directives and guidelines including:

Links to all relevant forms for healthcare students and workers are in the forms section of the procedure’s library associated with this guideline.

3.1.1    Direct or indirect contact with patients/clients

3.1.1.1    Measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, pertussis, and COVID-19

Persons whose work or course program activities include tasks with risk of infectious disease transmission via direct or indirect contact with patients/clients must provide evidence that they have been vaccinated against, or are not susceptible to the VPDs listed below:

  • measles

  • mumps

  • rubella

  • varicella (chicken pox)

  • pertussis (whooping cough)

  • COVID-19.

Risk criteria includes:

  • those who have regular face to face contact with hospital patients.

  • those who have regular face to face contact with; clients who are immune compromised, have been diagnosed with a chronic disease, are pregnant, pre-school age or elderly.

  • those whose normal work location or course placement is in a clinical area such as a hospital ward, emergency department, outpatient clinic, dental clinic or other clinical healthcare facility and includes non-clinical staff.

  • those whose work or course placement frequently or regularly requires attending a clinical area such as a hospital ward, emergency department, outpatient clinic, dental clinic or other clinical healthcare facility and includes non-clinical staff. 

Further information is provided on the Queensland Health Risk role checklist.

3.1.1.2    Tuberculosis screening

It is a UQ requirement that those whose work or course program activities include the risk criteria above must also complete a TB self-assessment form  to determine if latent TB testing or TB follow-up is required.  Refer to section 4.13 of this guideline.

3.1.1.3    Influenza (flu)

An influenza vaccination is strongly recommended for all healthcare workers (HCWs) and HCW students in the autumn of each year after the latest flu vaccine has been released (usually March/April). The vaccine is usually available from late March.  Certain clinical placements will only accept students who have had the influenza vaccination to allow for staff and patient/client safety.

3.1.1.4    COVID-19 (coronavirus)

A worker or student required to enter, work in, or provide services in healthcare and other high-risk settings (including healthcare students on placements and their supervisors) are required to follow the COVID-19 vaccination requirements outlined in the Queensland Health Chief Health Officer public health directions. Refer to section 4.3 of this guideline.    

3.1.2    Exposure to blood or body substances

3.1.2.1    Hepatitis B immunisation

Persons who interact in clinical health facilities and have direct contact with patients or who may be exposed to human blood or body fluids as a result of their work or placement activities, must be vaccinated against hepatitis B.  Those at higher risk of exposure must also provide evidence to confirm immunity or evidence that the person is not susceptible.      

Tasks that involve direct patient contact may include (not an exhaustive list):

  • providing clinical care or treatment of any kind;

  • assisting a patient to undertake activities of daily living such as eating, using the toilet or mobilising;

  • any manual handling of patients.

Other tasks with risk of hepatitis B exposure in healthcare settings include:

  • collecting, transporting, handling or processing of pathology samples;

  • cleaning of spills that may contain blood or body substances of any kind;

  • manual handling or transporting of deceased people;

  • post mortem examination or autopsies;

  • bed making and cleaning;

  • handling of soiled or contaminated linen;

  • handling of clinical or laboratory waste or waste receptacles;

  • cleaning in a patient room, using cleaning, repairing or maintaining equipment, surfaces or other items used in clinical areas or laboratory setting.

Refer to section 4.2 for further detail regarding hepatitis B vaccination. 

3.1.2.2    Exposure prone procedures (EPP)

An exposure-prone procedure (EPP) is a procedure where there is a risk of injury to the Health Care Worker (HCW) resulting in exposure of the patient’s open tissues to the blood of the worker. These procedures include those where the workers hands (whether gloved or not) may be in contact with sharp instruments, needle tips or sharp tissues (spicules of bone or teeth) inside a patient’s open body cavity, wound or confined anatomical space where the hands or fingertips may not be completely visible at all times.

Reference – Australian National Guidelines for the Management of Healthcare Workers Living with Blood Borne Viruses and Healthcare Workers who Perform Exposure Prone Procedures at Risk of Exposure to Blood Borne Viruses - 2019

Persons who undertake EPPs as a requirement of their job or coursework must also submit an Exposure Prone Procedure Declaration signed by a Medical Practitioner prior to exposure. The Medical Practitioner must confirm that the person can safely perform EPP and has undertaken screening for Hepatitis B, C and HIV within the twelve months of their commencing employment or their healthcare program.

The national guidelines state that “Healthcare workers who perform EPPs must take reasonable steps to know their BBV status and should be tested for BBVs at least once every three years” Some student cohorts will receive a request during their program to provide evidence of repeat screening to ensure that they have been screened at least once every three years.  These students will be required to submit screening via an EPP Statement by their medical practitioner. Refer to the forms section of this procedure

3.1.3    Healthcare providers – remote indigenous communities

3.1.3.1    Hepatitis A

Healthcare providers who work or are on placement in remote indigenous communities and/or regularly provide care for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander children in the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia or Western Australia, are recommended to be protected against hepatitis A in addition to the vaccines listed for all healthcare providers.  Refer to section 4.1 of this guideline.

3.2    Education workers and students

3.2.1    Recommended immunisations

UQ workers and students who currently work or intend to work with children are strongly recommended to confirm existing immunity or be vaccinated against:

  • measles

  • mumps

  • rubella

  • varicella (chicken pox)

  • pertussis (whooping cough)

  • COVID-19

  • annual influenza.

At times, UQ students attending primary or secondary schools for placements may be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 under the Queensland Health Chief Health Officer public health directions.

3.2.2    Early childhood education, special education settings

UQ workers and students who currently work or intend to work in early childhood education or special education settings are recommended to be protected against hepatitis A as well as those diseases listed in section 3.2.1. 

The Department of Education also recommends hepatitis B vaccination for those working in special education settings.

3.3    Laboratory workers and students 

3.3.1    Human blood, body fluids or tissue

UQ workers and students who are directly involved with handling human tissue, blood or body fluids must be immunised against hepatitis B and provide proof of immunity or provide evidence of non-susceptibility - see section 4.2 of this guideline.

3.3.2    Human or zoonotic infectious pathogens

Laboratory workers and students interacting with human or zoonotic infectious pathogens must refer to PPL procedure 2.40.15 Working with hazardous biological material, as permission from The University of Queensland Institutional Biosafety Sub-Committee may be required prior to work commencing. A risk assessment for the pathogen involved must be undertaken to identify if a vaccination is available to protect against disease transmission in the workplace.

It is important to be vaccinated prior to work with the pathogen commencing and medical advice will be needed about the length of time needed before exposure to the pathogen in question. Refer to section 4 of this guideline for further information about each disease and immunisation.   

  • Persons handling veterinary specimens or working with Q fever organism (Coxiella burnetii) must undertake screening and if indicated, Q fever vaccination. 

  • Persons handling unscreened human tissue, blood or body fluids must be immunised against hepatitis B and provide proof of immunity; or provide evidence of non-susceptibility.  These persons are also recommended to be immunised against COVID-19.

  • Persons handling human faecal samples should be vaccinated against hepatitis A; or provide evidence they are not susceptible to hepatitis A.

  • Persons working with the SARS-CoV-2 virus must be up-to-date with vaccination against COVID-19. Refer to section 4.3 of this guideline.

  • Persons working with bat tissues, lyssaviruses or rabies virus must maintain immunity against rabies. Refer to section 4.11 of this guideline. 

  • Persons working with Mycobacterium tuberculosis must undertake baseline screening of their TB status prior to work commencing. 

  • Persons working with Japanese encephalitis virus must be immunised against this disease. From April 2022, persons working with pigs or pig tissue are recommended to be immunised against JEV.

As a general principle, persons working with any pathogen that is potentially preventable by immunisation should be fully vaccinated and confirm immunity or non-susceptibility. Further information about working safely with biohazardous material can be obtained from the UQ Biosafety webpage. Pathogen Safety Data Sheets for some infectious micro-organisms can be obtained from:

3.4    Interacting with wastewater, sewage or soil

3.4.1    Research or other workers in contact with untreated sewage or human faecal samples

Those who conduct research in regular contact with untreated sewage, wastewater or human faecal samples should be immunised against hepatis A. They are also strongly recommended to be up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations.

Researchers collecting wastewater or raw sewage samples in the field should also have current tetanus vaccination.

3.4.2    Plumbers and Sewage Treatment Operators

Workers in regular contact with waste water or sewage such as plumbers and sewage treatment operators should be vaccinated against hepatitis A; or provide evidence they are not susceptible to hepatitis A.  They should also have current tetanus vaccination. These workers are strongly recommended to be up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations. 

Hepatitis B vaccination and confirmation of immunity is recommended if a worker in areas/ tasks where high concentrations of human bi-products exist including human blood, body fluids or tissue or if the worker is expected to have regular contact with sewage debris such as used needles and syringes. 

Q fever vaccination or confirmation of immunity is recommended for sewage treatment operators or workers in areas/tasks where high concentrations of animal waste/bi-products exist. 

Refer to section 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.10 and 4.12 of this guideline.

3.4.3    Grounds workers and gardeners

Persons frequently handling manured soil should have received a complete childhood tetanus vaccination schedule (a 5-dose primary schedule 2, 4, 6 and 18 months and 4 years of age plus a booster aged 11-13 years). A tetanus-containing vaccine booster is recommended for all adults at 50 years of age and at 65 years of age if it is more than 10 years since the last dose.

Adolescents and adults who have never had a tetanus-containing vaccine are recommended to receive 3 doses of tetanus-containing vaccine with at least 4 weeks between doses, and booster doses at 10 years and 20 years after the primary course.

The need for tetanus-containing vaccine in people with a tetanus-prone wound, with or without tetanus immunoglobulin, depends on the nature of the wound and the person's vaccination history.  Refer to section 4.12 of this guideline.

In addition, immunity against Q fever is recommended for people who regularly mow and slash grass contaminated with animal excreta if the site has recently been used for livestock grazing or is densely populated with kangaroos or other wildlife. In addition, those exposed to animal manures in fertilisers and soil conditioners should also consider Q fever prevention. Refer to section 4.10 of this guideline. 

3.5    Interacting with animals including animal blood, tissues, products or animal waste

UQ workers or students who work with agricultural animals or wildlife as outlined in UQ's Q-fever Screening and Immunisation Guideline must be screened and/or vaccinated against Q fever - also see section 4.10 of this guideline.

Agricultural workers and those who work with animals should also be immunised against tetanus - see section 4.12 of this guideline.

Veterinary workers and students are also recommended to receive annual influenza vaccination - see section 4.4 of this guideline.

3.5.1    Bats or Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL virus) 

Australian bat lyssavirus (ABL) is a virus that can be transmitted from infected bats. Persons interacting with bats or ABL virus must be immunised against rabies and comply with recommended post vaccination and post exposure screening recommendations - Refer to section 4.11 of this document.

3.5.2    Pigs or poultry

Persons frequently in contact with pigs or poultry are strongly recommended to have annual influenza vaccination.  Refer to section 4.4 of this guideline. 

See information in section 4.5 for information about pigs and Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV).

3.6    First Aid Officers

First aid officers appointed for the University are recommended to be immunised against hepatitis B, be up to date with COVID-19 vaccination and have the annual influenza vaccination. Refer to section 4.2 of this guideline and the Working Safely with Blood and Body Fluids Guideline.

3.7    Mortuary technicians and embalmers

Baseline screening for tuberculosis and immunisation against tetanus and hepatitis B is required for those working with cadavers including mortuary technicians and embalmers. For those likely to be exposed to faecal material as part of the embalming process, immunisation against hepatitis A is also recommended.

3.8    Work related travel or fieldwork activities

For all travel, particularly international travel, seek specialised travel health advice and vaccinations and refer to information provided in the Work Off-Campus Procedure and Guideline. Travellers are also responsible for reading the travel advice issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - Smart Traveller website and the UQ International SOS portal (search by location list).

Consider vaccination for Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV) for UQ workers or students who are living or working in the outer Torres Strait islands during the wet season.  Healthcare workers who live or work in rural and remote indigenous communities should also consider additional immunisation including hepatitis A and Influenza.  Refer to the Australian Immunisation Handbook for guidelines.

4.0    Occupational Vaccinations and Immunisation Screening

4.1    Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is an acute infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. The severity and duration of the infection varies however for most affected people the symptoms are self-limiting and usually resolve within 3 weeks. The symptoms are often more severe in adults compared to childhood cases and occasionally the symptoms of hepatitis A infection in adults can be seriously debilitating and last several months. Transmission of the virus usually occurs via faecal/oral transfer for example by drinking contaminated water, eating food that has been handled by an infected person or touching infected faeces from contaminated nappies or towels.

Vaccination must be considered for healthcare workers who live or work in rural and remote indigenous communities or who work in health units where the unit provides for substantial populations of indigenous children.

It is also recommended that childcare workers, carers of the intellectually disabled and for those who may be exposed to sewage at work, such as plumbers and persons conducting wastewater/sewerage research are protected against hepatitis A transmission.

To avoid unnecessary vaccination, it is recommended that the following groups be screened for pre-existing natural immunity to hepatitis A:

  • those born before 1950;

  • those who spent their early childhood in endemic areas; and

  • those with an unexplained previous episode of hepatitis or jaundice. (N.B. Such a previous episode cannot be assumed to be hepatitis A).

If, upon screening, a person has total Hepatitis A antibodies or anti-HAV IgG, they are considered to be immune. It can be assumed that they have either had previous, perhaps unrecognised, HAV infection, or less likely, has been previously immunised. Hepatitis A vaccination in this instance would therefore not be required.

Hepatitis A vaccine is administered as two injections 6 to 12 months apart. A combined vaccine against hepatitis A and hepatitis B is available.

For further information about Hepatitis A, refer to Qld Health Conditions Directory and the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

4.2    Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a serious infection which causes inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis B is transmitted via parenteral exposure (see definition section 7) to the blood or body fluid of an infected person. Immunisation against hepatitis B is the most effective way of preventing infection transmission.

UQ requires hepatitis B vaccination and proof of immunity or evidence of non-susceptibility whenever there is a risk of persons acquiring or transmitting hepatitis B in the workplace e.g. healthcare staff, laboratory staff working with unscreened human blood or body fluids.

There is good evidence that a successfully completed primary course (three injections, the second at one month, the third at four to six months followed by a blood test with Hep Bs Ab >10 IU/l at least 4 weeks following last dose) provides long lasting protection in normal (immune-competent) individuals. If the primary course has produced a protective level of antibodies as detailed above, routine boosters are not recommended (Australian Immunisation Handbook). Further medical advice is necessary if vaccination is unsuccessful or if Hep Bs Ag, Hep B c Ab or Hep B DNA are positive. Refer to the Working Safely with Blood and Body Fluids Guideline.

Hepatitis B vaccination and/or proof of immunity, or evidence that the person is not susceptible, is required prior to commencing work or placement in a Queensland Health clinical facility. Please refer to Queensland Health Vaccination of Healthcare Workers Guideline.

For all UQ healthcare students, hepatitis B vaccination and/or proof of immunity, or evidence that the person in not susceptible, is required prior to commencing a healthcare program at UQ and/or clinical placements. Please refer to program entry requirements and also Queensland Health Vaccination of Health Care Workers Guideline.

A combined vaccine against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B is available.

An approved rapid immunisation schedule is available for persons requiring urgent immunisation against Hepatitis B or Hepatitis A and B. However, where possible, the standard 6-month course should be followed. Where Hepatitis B vaccination is required, or anticipated to be required, vaccination should start as early as possible.

For further information about Hepatitis B, refer to Qld Health Conditions Directory and the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

4.3    COVID-19

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV2 virus. It is responsible for the pandemic which commenced in China in late 2019 and spread around the world including Australia in 2020. Many people will develop no symptoms, or mild symptoms, but a small percentage of those affected will develop life-threatening complications including pneumonia and vascular disorders. Some people who recover will have ongoing symptoms in a condition known as “long COVID”.

Some individuals are at higher risk of severe disease, including older people and those with underlying health conditions.

All UQ staff and students are strongly encouraged (except where required under a Public Health Direction) to be ‘up-to-date’ with their COVID-19 vaccinations which has been one of the most effective risk mitigation measures to manage COVID-19 during the pandemic. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) provide the definition of ‘up-to-date’ vaccination status and the recommended vaccination schedules here.  These recommendations aim to provide the optimal individual and/or population protective vaccination benefits (over risks) and take into account other factors, such as vaccine access. COVID-19 vaccine up-to-date status will likely need to be modified over time.

Some categories of UQ workers and students are considered at higher risk due to their UQ work or study activities:

  • Those working with live cultures or samples containing SARS-CoV-2. These people must be up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations and able to provide proof of vaccination completion.  

  • Healthcare workers and students with placements in healthcare or disability settings (as well as UQ staff providing supervision to these students). Depending on government or organisational directives at the time, workers or students may not be permitted to enter facilities unless they are up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations.

  • Education workers (schools) and education students with placements in schools. Depending on government or organisational directives at the time, workers or students may not be permitted to enter facilities unless they are up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations.

  • Those working with sewage or wastewater COVID-19. Up-to-date COVID vaccination is strongly recommended for these individuals.

  • Those handling unscreened, potentially infected human material (e.g. blood, urine or saliva). Up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination is strongly recommended for these individuals.

All individuals but especially those in high-risk roles must continue to follow any new developments in state and federal public health directives.  Refer to: Queensland Health Chief Health Officer public health directions.

Evidence of up-to-date vaccination may be requested by UQ dependent on the program or course, requirements of the placement provider; the placement/work location; or a risk assessment. 

4.4    Influenza

Influenza is a highly contagious disease caused by infection from Influenza type A or B (or rarely C) virus. These viruses infect the respiratory passages and lungs and can develop into a serious illness in some people, particularly those who are elderly, pregnant or have an underlying medical condition.

Annual vaccination with influenza vaccine in autumn is strongly recommended for those at personal or occupational risk from influenza, including the following:

  • All healthcare workers (HCW) and HCW students, to protect both the HCW and the patients they interact with.
  • Persons who work with children or care for persons with developmental disabilities. 

  • Persons who frequently interact with pigs and/or poultry.

  • Persons living in close quarters in residential accommodation such as student residential colleges.

Immune-compromised persons are recommended to get vaccinated against influenza and should discuss their needs with their treating doctor.

Influenza vaccination is available free of charge to staff during the annual UQ flu campaign in autumn each year. Students can access vaccination from their own GP or Pharmacy or from UQ Health Care at St Lucia and Gatton campuses.

For further information about Influenza, refer to Qld Health Conditions Directory and the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

4.5    Japanese encephalitis

Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a serious infection of the brain caused by the mosquito-borne JE virus (JEV). Prior to 2022, JE occurred mainly in Southeast Asia and China and occasional cases in eastern Indonesia, Torres Strait and North Queensland. In February 2022, JE was declared a Communicable Disease Incident of National Significance due to confirmed diagnoses of JE virus in pig herds in NSW, Vic and Qld and multiple human cases of JE in Australia.  

JE Vaccination is required for laboratory staff and animal technicians working with the JE virus and is now recommended for those who work with pigs or pig tissue.   It is also recommended for those who will be living or working on the outer islands of the Torres Strait for a cumulative total of 30 days or more during the wet season (December to May). Those visiting the outer islands in the dry season (June to November) do not require vaccination. Those visiting only the inner islands, including Thursday Island, do not require vaccination.

Workers and students intending to visit high risk areas such as rural parts of Papua New Guinea and Asia must consult with UQ Health Care (St Lucia Campus) or a travel medicine service or specialist for further advice. 

For further information about Japanese encephalitis, including groups for priority vaccination refer to Australian Govt Dept of Health - JE VaccinesQld Health Conditions Directory and the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

4.6    Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)

For information about Measles, Mumps and Rubella infection refer to the Qld Health Conditions Directory.

All those in healthcare related roles and placements with direct or indirect patient contact must ensure they have received 2 doses of MMR vaccine or provide evidence that they are immune to all three of these diseases.  This also applies to UQ staff or students who regularly interact as part of their UQ work or study with persons who are immune compromised, have a chronic health condition, are pregnant, pre-school age or elderly.

Residential college students should have their vaccination records reviewed to ensure they have received 2 doses of MMR vaccine as MMR are highly contagious and can spread rapidly amongst persons living in close quarters. Although the incidence of these diseases has declined in Australia since the introduction of universal vaccination in the 1980's, there has been an increase in measles and mumps infections among adolescents and young adults who were not fully vaccinated against MMR.  Large outbreaks of measles infection have occurred in many countries including developed countries and it is recommended that all persons travelling internationally ensure that they are protected against measles infection.

Women should be screened for rubella antibodies shortly before every pregnancy, early in the pregnancy or if pregnancy is contemplated, irrespective of a previous positive rubella antibody result. Women should not receive the vaccine if they are pregnant or might become pregnant within 28 days. 

Persons born prior to 1966 are not required to be screened or vaccinated against MMR as persons in this age group are considered to have immunity (unless serological evidence indicates otherwise). MMR vaccination is contraindicated in those who are immune-compromised. Rubella containing vaccines are also contraindicated in pregnancy.

For further information about MMR refer to Qld Health Conditions Directory and the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

4.7    Meningococcal disease

Meningococcal disease is a severe illness that can cause death or profound life-long disability including brain damage, hearing loss and/or limb loss. It is an uncommon condition which occurs when meningococcal bacteria invade the body resulting in meningococcal meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain) or meningococcal septicaemia (where the infection is in the bloodstream). Meningococcal bacteria are present in the throat or nasal passages of approximately 10% of the community. Most of these people are not affected by the presence of the bacteria and remain well but can transmit the bacteria to others. A small percentage of those infected may subsequently develop illness and will require urgent medical attention and treatment with antibiotics.

4.7.1    Meningococcal disease caused by A, C, W, and Y serotypes

At the time of publication of this document free vaccination is available for 15-19-year-olds as part of the National Immunisation Program.  The program targets 15–19-year-olds, who have the highest rates of meningococcal carriage and it is recommended that unvaccinated students 19 years of age or younger consider being vaccinated. 

Immunisation against meningococcal ACWY is also now part of the infant immunisation schedule.

4.7.2    Meningococcal disease caused by B serotype

Meningococcal B vaccination is recommended in a 2-dose schedule for all adolescents aged 15 - 19 years due to their higher risk of serotype B meningococcal disease compared with other ages. Meningococcal B vaccination is particularly recommended for adolescents and young adults living in close quarters, such as military recruits and students living in residential accommodation. Vaccination is recommended prior to entry to such high-risk settings or as soon as possible after entry. This vaccination is currently not covered by the National Immunisation Program and is therefore not without cost to the patient.

For further information about meningococcal disease refer to Qld Health Conditions Directory and the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

4.8    Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It can cause a persistent cough in adolescents and adults and in babies the infection can be life-threatening.

Vaccination against pertussis is recommended for any adult who wishes to reduce the risk of infection for themselves and for any close contacts who may be vulnerable to an increased risk of poor health outcome if infected. It is recommended that adults who have previously been vaccinated as a child against pertussis, and who require a booster against diphtheria or tetanus, consider boosting their pertussis immunity using the dTpa vaccination. dTpa vaccination is strongly recommended for pregnant women and all adults who will be in close contact with babies and young children including those working in early childhood care or education with children <4 years of age.

All those in healthcare related roles and placements with direct or indirect patient contact must be immunised against pertussis and must receive a pertussis booster if more than 10 years have elapsed since their last dose. Those interacting with persons who are immune compromised, have a chronic health condition or who are pregnant, pre-school age or elderly must also comply with the same standard of pertussis immunisation as described for healthcare workers.

Vaccinated healthcare workers and students who develop symptoms compatible with pertussis infection should still be investigated for pertussis and must be excluded from the workplace until a pertussis diagnosis is ruled out.

For further information about pertussis refer to Qld Health Conditions Directory and the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

4.9    Poliomyelitis (Polio)

Poliomyelitis is an infection caused by polioviruses. Most infections cause mild self-limited disease with minimal symptoms, however, in some cases the virus can affect the central nervous system and cause paralysis and permanent disability.

It is important to retain high vaccination rates against polio in Australia while the disease remains endemic in other parts of the world.

All adults are recommended to have completed a full course of poliomyelitis vaccination as part of the National Immunisation program (at 2, 4 and 6 months of age with a booster at 4 years of age). 

Further boosters are not required except for the following persons at special risk, such as:

  • travellers to areas or countries where poliomyelitis is epidemic or endemic or with recent cases including vaccine derived polio - see http://www.polioeradication.org for more information on affected countries, or

  • Healthcare workers, including laboratory workers, in possible contact with poliomyelitis cases.

For those exposed to a continuing risk of infection, booster doses are desirable every 10 years.

The risk of exposure to polio in the Australian community including the healthcare setting is considered too low to routinely recommend polio boosters to healthcare students. Polio vaccine (the inactivated polio vaccine by injection) is recommended for students who will be undertaking a period of training in countries where polio is present.

For further information about polio refer to Qld Health Conditions Directory and the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

4.10    Q-fever

Q-fever is a zoonotic infection transmitted by the bacterial microorganism Coxiella burnetii, usually via dust and aerosols from infected animals. Protection against Q-fever transmission is recommended for persons working with cattle, sheep, goats and some feral animals (and for those who frequently work in areas where these animals are kept). This also includes persons who are frequently exposed to products, materials or waste from these animals.  Workers and students considered to be at significant risk of infection transmission include those working in agriculture and farms, veterinarians and veterinary students, wildlife research and persons working in a laboratory setting with the organism Coxiella burnetii. In addition to those who work with high-risk animals, Q-fever protection may be applicable where there is airborne dust from mowing, slashing, earthworks, excavation and digging if the site is contaminated with animal excreta. e.g. if the site has recently been used for livestock grazing or is densely populated with kangaroos or other wildlife. In addition, those exposed to animal manures in fertilisers and soil conditioners should also consider Q-fever prevention.

Q-fever screening must be undertaken prior to Q-fever vaccination. Screening includes a serum antibody test and skin testing. Screening identifies those who should not be vaccinated to avoid side effects. Vaccination must be preceded by a negative blood and skin test performed by a specifically trained doctor. See the UQ Health Care website and UQ Q-Fever Guideline for details of the screening and vaccination program.

For further information about Q-fever please refer to the QH Health Conditions Directory and the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

4.11    Rabies/Australian bat lyssavirus (ABL)

Rabies is a disease of the nervous system caused by the rabies virus. Rabies infects domestic and wild mammals and is spread to humans through close contact with infected saliva, usually via an infected animal bite or scratch. Rabies in humans is almost always fatal once symptoms develop. Rabies is not found in Australia but a close relative of the virus called the Australian bat lyssavirus, can be found in Australian bats.

UQ veterinary and wildlife workers, researchers and students who handle Australian bats, or researchers who work with Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABL) in a laboratory, or those who work with animals in areas of the world where rabies is endemic, must have completed a pre-exposure rabies vaccination course. Workers and students must seek rapid post exposure treatment in the event they are bitten or scratched when handling a bat or other potentially infected animal or sustain a potentially contaminated sharps injury. Please refer to PPL 2.60.14 Working Safely with Bats and Flying Foxes: Lyssa Virus for information about pre exposure vaccination, post exposure treatment and the requirement for on-going rabies boosters and rabies antibody monitoring. Also refer to the Work Health and Safety Queensland, Australian bat lyssavirus and handling bats for further information about safely handling bats.

4.11.1    Rabies/ABL screening

UQ workers and students likely to be exposed to bats in Australia or overseas or potentially rabid animals overseas, should have antibody levels checked or be re-vaccinated every 2 years. Those with impaired immunity should have their antibody levels tested 2-3 weeks after the third dose of the vaccine.

UQ Workers and students who work with ABL in a laboratory must have their antibody levels tested every 6 months and receive booster doses, if required, depending on the antibody level.

For further information about rabies refer to Qld Health Conditions Directory and the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

4.12    Tetanus

Tetanus is an acute disease caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani. This bacteria is commonly found in soil, dust and manure. The bacteria can contaminate wounds and produce a toxin which causes painful muscular contractions and spasms. Unvaccinated persons are at risk of developing tetanus if they sustain a wound contaminated by tetanus bacteria.

All adults in the community, including all UQ workers and students, are advised to maintain their immunity to tetanus. All adults should have received a complete childhood tetanus vaccination schedule (a 3-dose primary schedule as an infant, 2 additional doses at age 18 months and 4 years, and an additional booster dose as an adolescent.  A tetanus-containing vaccine booster is recommended for all adults at 50 years of age and at 65 years of age if it is more than 10 years since the last dose.  Vaccination is recommended every 10 years for travellers to countries where health services are difficult to access. Travellers with a higher risk of a tetanus-prone wound are recommended to be vaccinated every 5 years.

The need for tetanus-containing vaccine in people with a tetanus-prone wound, with or without tetanus immunoglobulin, depends on the nature of the wound and the person’s vaccination history.

Adolescents and adults who have never had a tetanus-containing vaccine are recommended to receive 3 doses of tetanus-containing vaccine with at least 4 weeks between doses, and booster doses at 10 years and 20 years after the primary course.

Agricultural workers, veterinary workers and others at risk of sustaining penetrating injuries (e.g. an animal bite) or soil contaminated injuries, should be fully vaccinated against tetanus. The situation is not clearly defined for persons in these groups who are working in Australia and likely to receive minor tetanus-prone wounds frequently. They should seek medical advice about the need for and frequency of booster doses if they regularly sustain minor injuries in the course of their work. A combined vaccine is normally used which contains tetanus and diphtheria (ADT) and for those who require pertussis protection there is a combined diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis vaccine available.

For further information about tetanus refer to Qld Health Conditions Directory and the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

4.13    Tuberculosis screening

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that can affect almost any part of the body but most commonly infects the lungs (pulmonary tuberculosis). Please refer to QH Health Conditions Directory for more information about this condition.

At the start of employment or a study program with the University, persons who perform tasks that could put them at increased risk of acquisition and/or transmission of TB during their work or placement activities must undergo baseline screening for previous infection prior to work or placement activities commencing.

A Queensland Health Tuberculosis Risk Assessment Form for Students is the accepted Queensland Health self-assessment tool for all UQ healthcare staff and students and is to be completed as a minimal requirement by: 

Latent TB screening, consisting of either a Quantiferon Gold TB blood screening test or a tuberculin skin test (TST), can be requested via a medical practitioner or via the Queensland Health clinical TB screening service. This screening must be undertaken for persons in the following categories:

  • Healthcare workers or students who have a TB exposure risk history as identified on the TB Risk Assessment Questionnaire.

  • Embalmers and workers involved in conducting autopsies.

  • Laboratory workers conducting research with Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Laboratory workers conducting on-going research tasks with Mycobacterium Tuberculosis must also undertake TB screening on an annual basis and a final screening test on exiting the project.  

Persons who have a positive TB screening test or a higher exposure risk will be referred to a Queensland TB Control Service for follow up.

The BCG vaccine is no longer routinely recommended for TST negative healthcare workers. However BCG vaccination should be considered for TST negative healthcare workers at high risk of being exposed to drug-resistant TB.

Further information is available on the Queensland Health Healthcare workers and students website and the Queensland Health Protocol for the Control of Tuberculosis.

4.14    Varicella (Chickenpox)

Varicella is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. In healthy children, the disease is usually a mild illness however life-threatening complications can occur rarely. For most, the disease presents with mild cold-like symptoms with a rash appearing after 2 days. The rash has characteristic itchy blisters that last approximately 4-5 days. Varicella infection can however be much more severe in adults and can cause serious and have even fatal consequences for persons who are immune compromised. Varicella can also have harmful consequences for an unborn baby therefore pregnant women and those with new-born infants should seek urgent medical advice if they have close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with varicella infection.

Varicella vaccination is mandatory for all non-immune healthcare related personnel (including students) and is particularly important if working in maternity, neonatal or paediatric wards, or with immune-compromised patients.

UQ Healthcare workers (HCWs) and HCW students must have 2 doses of a varicella containing vaccine or provide evidence of varicella immunity.

A person is considered immune and does not require vaccination if a blood test shows varicella (IgG) antibodies.

Persons who are not immune to varicella must avoid contact with those with chicken pox or shingles infections.

Recently vaccinated healthcare workers (within the last 6 weeks) who develop a rash from the vaccine should not be in contact with susceptible patients for the duration of the rash.

Varicella is a live vaccine and is contraindicated in those who are immune compromised or pregnant. Pregnancy should also be avoided for at least 28 days post varicella vaccination.

For further information about varicella refer to Qld Health Conditions Directory and the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

5.0    Documentation

Individuals should keep the official record of their immunisations to serve as a permanent record of routine and work/course related immunisations or for overseas travel. Records of associated blood and other test results should also be retained.

Personal records should be kept indefinitely by the individual. 

Refer to section 6 of the associated Vaccinations and Immunisation Procedure regarding privacy and record storage by UQ.

6.0    Further advice and assistance including vaccination

Clinical assistance, expert advice and vaccinations are available from UQ Health Care (St Lucia Campus, Gatton Campus and Annerley). Additional advice can be obtained from the immunisation records team (IRT) or the Occupational Health Nurse Adviser in the Health, Safety and Wellness Division, email: immunisation@uq.edu.au or OHNA@uq.edu.au.

7.0    Appendix

7.1    Definitions

Anti-HAV - serum antibody to hepatitis A virus.

ABL - Australian bat lyssavirus.

Bacteria - micro-organisms that can cause infection. 

BCG- Bacillus Calmette-Guerin vaccine.

dT- Diphtheria, tetanus vaccine.

dTpa- Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine.

Education settings include schools, kindergartens, and childcare settings.

HCW- Healthcare worker - person who provides care to patients in a hospital, health service or community care setting.

HDR - Higher Degree by Research.

Hep Bs Ab - Hepatitis B surface antibodies.

IgG - immunoglobulin G, a group of antibodies that protect against a wide range of infecting organisms.

Immunisation - the process of inducing immunity to an infectious agent by administering a vaccine.

Immunity - the ability of the body to fight off certain infections; immunity can result from naturally acquired infection or from vaccination.

MMR Vaccine - Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine.

Non-UQ workers (others) - for the purposes of this guideline includes:

  • contractors, subcontractors and consultants;

  • volunteers - members of the community who donate their services in a voluntary capacity to UQ without expectation of remuneration. Volunteers include those undertaking work on fundraising and community-oriented projects, tertiary students wishing to gain exposure to particular UQ functions, among others.

Parenteral - brought into the body via a route other than the digestive tract. 

Statement of Susceptibility - letter from a medical officer, infection control practitioner or vaccine service provider stating that an individual is not susceptible to a specific disease.

SOP - Safe Operating Procedure.

Student - a student enrolled at the university and includes undergraduate, post graduate and HDR.

Tetanus prone injury - Please refer to section 4.19.9 'Tetanus-prone wounds in the latest edition of the  Australian Immunisation Handbook.

TB - Tuberculosis - is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

TST - Tuberculin Skin Test (also known as Mantoux test).

UQ workers – for the purposes of this procedure includes:

  • staff - includes an employee of UQ employed on a continuing, fixed-term or casual basis.

  • students – includes undergraduate, post-graduate, masters, higher degree by research (HDR), coursework, and students undertaking work experience.

  • visiting academics and researchers;

  • affiliates - academic title-holders, visiting academics, emeritus professors, adjunct and honorary title‑holders, industry fellows and conjoint appointments.

Up-to-date vaccination status is defined by the number and timing of appropriate COVID-19 vaccine doses recommended for an individual, according to their age and other factors.  The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) provide the definition of ‘up-to-date’ vaccination status and the recommended vaccination schedules here.

Vaccination - the administration of a vaccine; if vaccination is successful, it results in immunity.

Virus - a minute living organism smaller than bacteria that can self-replicate inside a specific host cell to cause infections.

VPD - Vaccine preventable disease.

Custodians
Director, Health, Safety and Wellness Mr Jim Carmichael

Forms

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Immunisation Referral - Form

Immunisation Referral - Form

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Description: 

Use this form for immunisation referral for work-related vaccinations for staff.

Custodians
Director, Health, Safety and Wellness Mr Jim Carmichael
Student Immunisation Records - Form

Student Immunisation Records - Form

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Description: 

The student immunisation record forms below are for students enrolled in programs which require them to undertake clinical placements in a hospital or health service. 

The forms must be completed by a registered medical practitioner and returned to the appropriate UQ school or faculty.

Custodians
Director, Health, Safety and Wellness Mr Jim Carmichael
UQ Staff Healthcare Worker - Form

UQ Staff Healthcare Worker - Form

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Description: 

Please ensure that all details on this form are completed and the relevant signatures have been obtained.  The completed form will need to be returned to the relevant HR Officer for your Faculty or School.

Custodians
Director, Health, Safety and Wellness Mr Jim Carmichael
Custodians
Director, Health, Safety and Wellness Mr Jim Carmichael
Custodians
Director, Health, Safety and Wellness Mr Jim Carmichael