Procedures

COVID- 19 Vaccination - Procedures

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1.0    Purpose and Scope

The purpose of this procedure is to protect the health and safety of all people who attend The University of Queensland (UQ) campuses, sites or facilities (UQ locations) by setting out the arrangements for requiring all staff, students and others to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (unless exempt) from 14 February 2022. This procedure applies to all staff, students, affiliates, volunteers, contractors, controlled entities, tenants and visitors (UQ Cohorts).

1.1    Context

This procedure supports UQ’s Health, Safety and Wellness Policy commitment to ensure health and safety risk management processes are in place, are proportionate and are evidence informed. UQ has undertaken a health and safety risk assessment which identifies the likelihood and consequence of being infected by, and the resulting illness of, COVID-19. The key risks identified include:

  • transmission within and outside the UQ community (including the risk to vulnerable people such colleagues, peers, friends and those in regional and rural areas);

  • serious illness including hospitalisation or even death;

  • disruption to teaching, learning and research activities due to ill staff or those required to quarantine (as close contacts of a positive case); and

  • the risk of increased anxiety from COVID-19 in the community.

UQ must identify whether there is a risk to the health of those attending UQ’s locations from exposure to COVID-19 and where a risk is identified, eliminate it insofar as it is reasonably practicable. When elimination is not possible, UQ must reduce the risk so far as reasonably practicable.

Requiring a COVID-19 vaccination for all those attending UQ locations, as defined in this procedure, is a major control measure to reduce the transmission of and risk from COVID-19. Vaccination is just one of the numerous controls in place to reduce the risk of transmission and of adverse health outcomes from exposure to COVID-19.

In addition, UQ is required to comply with relevant health directions that apply to UQ’s operations.

2.0    Risk mitigation

UQ has implemented several risk mitigation measures to manage COVID-19. These measures remain in place and are constantly reviewed. They include:

  • Implementing occupant density controls (in line with Queensland State Government Directions).

  • Splitting of teams to ensure continuation of critical business functions.

  • Wearing of face masks (in line with Queensland State Government Directions).

  • Encouraging high rates of COVID-19 testing if any symptoms present, no matter how mild.

  • Asking people to stay home if they are ill.

  • Encouraging high levels of hygiene (especially hand hygiene).

  • Monitoring building ventilation and increasing fresh air intake wherever possible.

  • Encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations since they have been available.

  • Controlling of events and gatherings according to Queensland Health Directions.

  • Keeping cleaning standards high.

The current scientific evidence demonstrates that vaccination against COVID-19 decreases the severity of illness if COVID-19 is contracted and reduces the length of illness. There is also evidence that vaccination decreases transmission rates for the Delta variant, although for the newer Omicron variant, evidence is still being gathered. For these reasons, COVID-19 vaccination has been selected as a major risk mitigation measure.

3.0    Process and Key Controls

  1. UQ requires all people 16 years old and over attending UQ locations to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless exempted under the specific conditions outlined in section 4.5 of this procedure.

  2. UQ staff, students and affiliates are required to declare their vaccination status to UQ and provide evidence of being either fully vaccinated or granted a medical exemption if requested by UQ.

  3. Vaccination status will be verified through an audit process for compliance purposes. Exception reports listing staff, students, and affiliates who have not provided a self-declaration will be provided to the relevant area for follow up.

  4. Information collected by UQ under this procedure will be processed and may be retained in a secure repository in line with UQ’s Information Management Policy and supporting procedures.

  5. Controlled entities, tenants and contractors are responsible for ensuring that any of their employees (and anyone else under their control or direction and employees of their contractors) who work at UQ locations are fully vaccinated and must provide confirmation to this effect to UQ on request.

  6. Any person at a UQ location may be asked to show evidence of vaccination or a valid medical exemption by an authorised UQ staff member and may be asked to leave a UQ location if they refuse or are unable to provide such evidence.

  7. Medical exemption is to be completed by the person’s treating medical practitioner and submitted to the Australian Immunisation Register prior to the requirement date.

  8. Non-compliance with this procedure may impact the person’s ability to fulfil the requirements of their engagement with UQ (e.g. duties of their employment or progression through their studies).

  9. Refusal to be fully vaccinated due to philosophical, religious, or non-medical reasons will not be accepted as valid reasons for an exemption to this vaccination requirement.

4.0    Key Requirements

4.1    Communicating vaccination requirements

UQ will make all reasonable efforts to effectively communicate vaccination requirements to all people who may access UQ locations. Communication of requirements will be through UQ’s website, direct emails, advertising, and local signage. Business units that engage with contractors, tenants, affiliates, and volunteers are responsible for communicating UQ’s vaccination requirements to them. UQ controlled entities are responsible for notifying their employees, customers, and visitors of UQ’s vaccination requirements.

4.2    Completing vaccination requirement

UQ requires the UQ Cohorts to be fully vaccinated (see section 8.1) against COVID-19 and where required, to provide evidence of vaccination status.

4.2.1    Approved vaccines

Evidence of a COVID-19 vaccination with an approved vaccine (see section 8.1) will be accepted by UQ. People who may have concern in relation to receiving an approved vaccine, including the process for obtaining an approved vaccine, should consult with their treating medical practitioner.

4.2.2    Adding overseas vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)

People can have their COVID-19 vaccination recorded in the AIR if they have an approved vaccine that was received after 1 October 2020. Any vaccination service, general practitioner or UQ Health Care can assist with this process. Once added to the AIR, a person can access their Immunisation History Statement or COVID-19 digital certificate via their Australian Government online services account (MyGov).

4.2.3    UQ Assistance

Continuing, fixed-term and eligible casual staff, can make, and attend, vaccination appointments during working hours by prior arrangement with their supervisor or manager and without a requirement to take any form of personal leave.

4.3    Vaccination declaration

Staff, student, affiliates and volunteers who have UQ log-in credentials will be required to complete an online declaration relating to their COVID-19 vaccination status.  Further declarations maybe required as booster vaccines are available.

4.4    Auditing of vaccination declarations

An audit process will be implemented to verify statements made in vaccination declarations.  A person who has made a declaration may be required to provide evidence of their vaccination or exemption status by providing a copy of their Medicare Vaccination Certificate (Apple/Android Wallet) or an electronic copy of their Medicare Vaccination Certificate. 

UQ may retain various information relating to the vaccination status of the individual including, but not limited to:

  • vaccination valid from date;

  • medical exemption status and valid to date.

4.4.1    Requests for evidence

Anyone attending UQ locations may be required to show evidence of vaccination or a medical exemption.  UQ reserves the right to request this evidence via an authorised UQ staff member at any time. This can be provided if requested via the Check-In Qld App, the electronic Medicare Vaccination Certificate (Apple/Android Wallet) or the Medicare Vaccination Certificate (hardcopy or electronic version).

4.4.2    Controlled entities, contractors and tenants

Controlled entities, tenants and contractors are responsible for ensuring that their employees, contractors and anyone else under their direction or control who work at UQ locations are fully vaccinated and must provide confirmation to this effect to UQ on request. Individuals associated with these groups are required to provide evidence of vaccination if asked by an authorised UQ staff member.

4.5    Exemptions

A person who is unable to be fully vaccinated due to a medical contraindication (see section 4.5.1) may be eligible to seek an exemption from the vaccination requirement from their treating medical practitioner.

The following people are exempt from the vaccination requirement under this procedure:

  • A person under the age of 16.

  • A person attending a UQ location for the sole purpose of seeking health care from an accredited health care provider.

  • A person required to attend a UQ location to respond to an emergency.

  • A person attending a UQ location for the purposes of engaging in research trials where an exemption has been granted for the purposes of the trial, or a person attending a UQ clinic for assessment and/or treatment (in these cases, individuals must follow any precautions required by the researcher or UQ clinic regarding reducing the risk of transmitting COVID-19).

  • A person required to perform urgent and essential work at a UQ location to protect the health and safety of UQ Cohorts, members of the public, or to protect assets and infrastructure.

  • Visitors to UQ locations that have limited or no interaction with UQ staff and students (incidental visitors, see section 8.1).

4.5.1    Medical exemption - medical contraindication

UQ will accept a medical contraindication as a valid exemption from UQ’s vaccine requirement. A person may seek advice from their treating medical practitioner and apply to them for a medical exemption.

Medical exemptions can be granted from the following authorised health professionals:

  • general practice registrars on an approved TGA training placement;

  • public health physicians;

  • infectious disease physicians;

  • clinical immunologists;

  • GPs who meet certain criteria.

GPs need to be one of the following:

  • vocationally registered;

  • a fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP);

  • a fellow of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM).

4.5.2    Evidence to support a medical exemption

The authorised medical health professional (as listed in 4.5.1) will update an individual’s record on the AIR to state a medical exemption which will be shown on the person’s COVID-19 digital certificate. The authorised medical health professional may make the medical exemption valid for only a defined period. The COVID-19 digital certificate will show a ‘valid to’ date if this is the case. 

UQ will not require, nor accept, a copy of any medical exemption form or letter. The only evidence accepted will be the COVID-19 digital certificate.

A person with an approved medical exemption will be considered fully vaccinated but also a ‘vulnerable person’ and additional risk mitigation measures may be required for the person to attend UQ locations. These measures will be arranged by:

  1. The person (if they are a staff member, affiliate or volunteer), their manager/supervisor, and Human Resources Division (HR).

  2. The person (if they are a student), and Student Services.

All persons that declare they have a medical exemption will be contacted by the Immunisation Records Team (IRT).

4.6    Compliance

UQ will undertake assurance activities to ensure compliance with this procedure.

People who do not comply with this procedure may be excluded from UQ locations. If a person refuses to leave a UQ location, UQ Security may be called to assist.

However, UQ is committed to working with people who are unable to comply with this procedure to consider whether there are reasonably practicable alternative work practices or study options that could be implemented to enable their continued engagement with UQ. This may not be possible where attendance at UQ locations is an inherent requirement of employment or study.

If a person fails or refuses to provide evidence of being fully vaccinated or evidence to support a medical exemption when requested, then in addition to requiring the person to leave a relevant UQ location, UQ may decide to treat that person as not being fully vaccinated and will apply this procedure accordingly.

In addition, people that are not fully vaccinated may have their access to UQ buildings disabled.

4.6.1    Staff (Continuing, fixed-term and casual)

If a staff member has not been fully vaccinated and does not have a medical exemption in accordance with this procedure, UQ’s HR Division will liaise with the person and their manager to seek to understand their reasons for choosing not to be fully vaccinated and to support the individual to comply with this procedure.

If following these discussions, the staff member continues to choose not to be fully vaccinated, alternative work practices (such as enabling the staff member to access accrued leave entitlements or providing a period of leave without pay) or other reasonable steps that can be put in place will be explored. Consideration will be given on a case-by-case basis to the nature of relevant staff members’ role, and whether their position can be performed remotely. However, alternative work practices that involve not attending UQ locations and working from home indefinitely will not be considered when attendance at UQ locations is required.

Where UQ determines that alternative work practices cannot be implemented and the staff member is required to attend a UQ location to perform their role, UQ may issue a lawful and reasonable direction to attend a UQ location and comply with this procedure. Failure to comply with a lawful and reasonable direction may result in disciplinary action being taken against a staff member up to and including the termination of employment.

4.6.2    Students

If a student has not been fully vaccinated and does not have a medical exemption in accordance with this procedure, Student Services will provide the student with information on the vaccination requirement and support the student to comply with this procedure.

If following these discussions, the student continues to choose not to be fully vaccinated, UQ will consider whether alternative study options are available, such as enabling the student to defer their studies, adjusting their course selection or consideration of the remaining requirements that may not require attendance at a UQ location. In circumstances where UQ determines that alternative study options cannot be made and the student is required to attend a UQ location to undertake their studies, the student may need to consider their enrolment options.

A student’s failure to comply with this procedure may result in disciplinary action being taken against the student.

4.6.3    Affiliates

If an affiliate has not been fully vaccinated and does not have a medical exemption in accordance with this procedure, the relevant UQ officer that engaged the affiliate (supported by HR) will liaise with the affiliate to discuss and seek to understand their reasons for choosing not to be fully vaccinated and to support them to comply with this procedure.

If following these discussions, the affiliate continues to choose not to be vaccinated, UQ may remove any on-campus privileges associated with the affiliate appointment. In circumstances where UQ determines that the attendance at a UQ location is critical to the affiliate’s engagement with UQ, UQ may terminate the affiliate appointment.

4.6.4    Volunteers

If a volunteer has not been fully vaccinated and does not have a medical exemption in accordance with this procedure, the relevant UQ officer that engaged the volunteer (supported by HR) will discuss and seek to understand their reasons for choosing not to be fully vaccinated, and to support the person to comply with this procedure.

If following these discussions, the volunteer continues to choose not to be fully vaccinated, UQ may terminate the volunteering arrangement.

4.6.5    Controlled entities and contractors

Controlled entities and contractors are to ensure their employees, contractors and anyone else under their control or direction accessing a UQ location are fully vaccinated in accordance with this procedure. These entities are responsible for verifying the vaccination records of their employees, contractors’ and anyone else under their control or direction as a condition of entry to all UQ locations (except if there is an approved exemption to attend a UQ location as noted in section 4.5). Individuals may be required to provide evidence of their vaccination status if requested by an authorised UQ staff member.

If an employee, contractor or anyone else under the control or direction of a controlled entity or any contractor fails to comply with this procedure or provide evidence to demonstrate compliance with this procedure, they will be asked to leave the UQ location, or the contract may be terminated.

4.6.6    Tenants (including UQ owned residential accommodation)

Tenants that attend, or that have employees or contractors attend a UQ location, must ensure they and all of their employees, contractors and anyone else under their control or direction are fully vaccinated in accordance with this procedure. Tenants are responsible for verifying the vaccination records of their employees’, contractors’ and anyone else under their control or direction as a condition of entry to UQ locations. Individuals may be required to provide evidence of their vaccination status if asked by an authorised UQ staff member.

If a tenant fails to comply or provide evidence to demonstrate compliance with this procedure, UQ may consider appropriate action regarding the tenant’s right of occupation. This may include restricting the tenant, their employees, contractors or anyone else under their control or direction from attending a UQ location or terminating the right of occupation.

4.6.7    Visitors

All visitors (except for incidental visitors) attending UQ locations must be fully vaccinated in accordance with this procedure. This includes people visiting UQ for official business purposes and attending UQ locations for entertainment or hospitality purposes. Visitors may be required to provide evidence of being fully vaccinated (or a medical exemption) if asked by an authorised UQ staff member. If this cannot be provided, the person will be asked to leave the UQ location.

4.7    Providing accurate information

All information, including vaccination declarations, provided to UQ in accordance with this Procedure must be accurate and truthful. Providing false or misleading information:

  1. In the case of a staff member, may result in disciplinary action being taken against the staff member up to and including the termination of employment.

  2. In the case of a student, may result in student disciplinary action being brought against the student.

  3. In the case of an affiliate or volunteer, will result in UQ reconsidering its association with the affiliate or volunteer, which may result in UQ ceasing its affiliation with the individual.

  4. In the case of a contractor or tenant, may result in UQ requiring the provision of an alternative person to perform the contract/service or termination of contractual or tenancy arrangements.

4.8    Privacy collection notice

UQ collects vaccination information (including evidence of vaccination or a medical exemption) for the purpose of assisting UQ to comply with its legal obligations, including under applicable work health and safety laws and public health directions (to help identify, reduce, and manage risks concerning COVID-19) and under legal arrangements that UQ has with third parties.

Personal information collected under this procedure may be used to process or verify COVID-19 vaccination status, to manage compliance with applicable UQ policies and procedures and UQ’s legal obligations, and as needed to identify, assess, and manage risks related to COVID-19. An individual’s verified vaccination status will be stored securely in accordance with the Privacy Management Policy.

For further information about how UQ handles personal information, and about individuals’ rights with respect to their personal information as held by UQ, please refer to the Privacy Management Policy or contact UQ’s Right to Information and Privacy Office.

5.0    Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

5.1    Heads of Organisational Units

Heads of Organisational Units are responsible for:

  • communicating and implementing this procedure within their areas of responsibility;

  • reviewing exception reports weekly on staff, affiliates, volunteers under their control who have not responded to vaccination requirements and engaging with HR to discuss next steps with people who are not compliant; and

  • ensuring compliance by any contractors directly engaged by the organisation unit.

5.2    Supervisors, managers, and academic principal advisors

Supervisors, managers and academic principal advisors are responsible for:

  • engaging with staff, affiliates and volunteers in their area of control regarding vaccination requirements with the support of HR;

  • working with HR on alternative work practices for staff and affiliates members where necessary;

  • communicating information, including requirements of this procedure, about COVID-19 risk mitigation measures;

  • promoting and facilitating cooperation between people in their area of responsibility in the implementation of this procedure; and.

  • monitoring and follow up of vaccination compliance.

When developing proposals for HDR student projects, academic principal advisors must also consider as part of the project development, whether the prospective HDR students have been advised of this procedure and of the requirement to be fully vaccinated to attend a UQ location.

5.3    Human Resources Division

Human Resources Division is responsible for:

  • including COVID-19 vaccination requirements in recruitment advertising, position descriptions and letters of offer as a condition of employment where relevant;

  • taking the lead in discussions with staff, affiliates and volunteers regarding vaccination requirements where required with the support from local supervisors and managers; and

  • assisting managers and supervisors in developing alternative work practices where necessary.

5.4    Student Services and Academic Services Division

Student Services and Academic Services Division are responsible for:

  • monitoring and follow up of student vaccination compliance;

  • providing support and guidance to students not fully vaccinated who are enrolled and need to attend a UQ location or placement where there is also a vaccination requirement;

  • discussing and exploring alternative study options in consultation with Faculties and/or the Graduate School, where practicable, to enable students to continue their studies with UQ wherever possible; and

  • informing students of the requirement to adhere to UQ’s policies and procedures.

5.5    Property and Facilities Division

Properties and Facilities Division (P&F) are responsible for:

  • monitoring compliance by contractors engaged through P&F, tenants and controlled entities; and

  • providing assurance that contractors, controlled entities and tenants are compliant with this procedure.

5.6    Health Safety and Wellness Division and Safety Network staff

The HSW Division provides overall direction, advice and leadership to UQ on work health and safety matters including COVID-19 vaccination requirements to maintain a safe place to work and study as far as reasonably practicable.

The HSW Division will:

  • continue to provide advice regarding risk mitigation strategies on the transmission of COVID-19 at UQ;

  • manage and implement the audit process of self-declarations and report non-compliances to HR or Student Services and Academic Services Division; and

  • review all self-declared medical exemptions.

HSW Managers and local Workplace Health and Safety Co-ordinators (WHSC) will assist in communicating information about COVID-19 and assist in promoting and facilitating cooperation between workers, students and management in their areas of responsibility in the implementation of this procedure.

5.7    Staff, students (undergraduate, coursework postgraduate and HDR) and affiliates

Staff, students and affiliates must comply with this procedure and protect themselves and others in UQ locations. This can be achieved by following any public health directions made under the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld), as well as, but not limited to:

  • submitting evidence of vaccination as requested and keep up to date with any booster requirements;

  • staying at home if the person has any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how minor, and getting tested for COVID-19;

  • isolating from others until a negative test has been returned and staying at home until all symptoms have resolved;

  • following all directions from Queensland Health if tested positive to COVID-19;

  • checking into each UQ building at a UQ location, using the Check-in App Queensland;

  • maintaining high levels of personal hygiene;

  • wearing a face mask where physical distancing of 1.5m is not able to be maintained; and

  • for prospective HDR students, submitting evidence of full vaccination when seeking to engage with UQ on research projects.

6.0    Monitoring, Review and Assurance

UQ’s Health, Safety and Wellness (HSW) Division will monitor, audit and assess the operation of this procedure in line with the latest information from state and federal governments and their respective health authorities. UQ may amend, withdraw, or replace this procedure from time to time at its sole discretion.   

The HSW Division will provide reports to management on compliance rates and provide updates of COVID-19 health and safety risk levels to UQ staff and students.

Auditing will be conducted on the self-declarations, including for all medical exemptions (to ensure compliance with section 4.5).

7.0    Recording and Reporting

Information collected by UQ in relation to vaccination requirements is collected for health and safety purposes. This information will be used to ensure compliance with this procedure and to meet legal compliance obligations.

Reports and trend analysis data will be provided to management to monitor compliance with this procedure.

8.0    Appendix

8.1    Definitions

Affiliates – academic title-holders, visiting academics, emeritus professors, adjunct and honorary title-holders, industry fellows, and conjoint appointments.

Alternative work practices or study options a range of risk mitigation strategies that may be employed to reduce the risk of transmission of and/or severe illness from COVID-19 by and to unvaccinated individuals.

Approved vaccine – any COVID-19 vaccine that has been registered for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). In the case of people who received their vaccination at an overseas location, an approved vaccine means any COVID-19 vaccine that has been approved by the TGA as a ‘recognised vaccine’ for the purpose of determining incoming international travellers as being appropriately vaccinated.

Authorised UQ Staff member – includes UQ security staff, supervisors, managers, Heads of School (and all levels above), contract managers, property managers, Student Services staff, event organisers and staff in libraries, galleries and museums.

Contractors – a natural person, business, corporation or other entity that provides goods and/or services through a contract (written or verbal) to UQ. This includes educational and research partners, or a person who is performing work for UQ (whether directly or indirectly through a third party), and includes contractors, subcontractors, consultants and labour hire workers (engaged through an agency), and also includes the employees of any of the foregoing.

Fully vaccinatedmeans a person who is 16 years of age or over has received the prescribed number of doses of an approved vaccine. Note: a person who has evidence of a medical contraindication is treated as being fully vaccinated.

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

Heads of organisational units – for the purposes of this procedure, these roles provide leadership and direction of their portfolios (faculties, schools, institutes, divisions, companies (controlled entities), central functions etc).

Incidental Visitors – a visitor to a UQ location who poses little risk to UQ’s staff and students as they have limited to no interaction with them. This may be because the visit to the UQ location is very brief, in an outdoor setting or outside of business hours. For example

  1. visitors to and participants in outdoor sporting events;

  2. courier drivers;

  3. persons passing through campuses for recreation or exercise (e.g. runners, dog walkers); and

  4. users of playground equipment.

Managers and supervisors – for the purposes of this procedure are intended to include all roles that manage groups of people or functional teams across UQ.

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

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, coursework, and students undertaking work experience.

Tenant – any natural person, business, or corporation who leases, licences or occupies a space at a UQ location.

UQ cohort – for the purposes of this procedure, means staff, students, affiliates, volunteers, contractors, controlled entities, tenants and visitors.

UQ location – for the purposes on this procedure, means any campus, site or facility owned or controlled by UQ or where a UQ business or undertaking is performed (but ‘UQ location’ does not include a detached residential house which is or is intended to be occupied by a single household or family and which does not include common areas or facilities which will be shared with other persons).

Visitor – a person who is visiting someone or somewhere on a UQ location but is not a staff member, student, contractor, affiliate, tenant, or volunteer.

Volunteer – 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.

Vulnerable people – those who are:

  • are immune compromised.

  • have a chronic health condition.

  • are pre-school age; or

  • are elderly.

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