As you prepare to undertake your student placement, it is important to understand that there is a risk that information may occur between you and your patients, clients or other contacts. In the course of your student placement, you might be exposed to potentially serious infectious agents (for example, through direct contact with an infectious patient, visitor or colleague or indirectly through a contaminated surface or environment). You might also pose a risk to others if you have an infecious condition that is capable of being transmitted as you perform your duties.
These risks cannot be totally eliminated, but the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences takes the prevention of infectious disease transmission very seriously and expects that all students take adequate steps to protect themselves and others from infection.
All health care workers (including students) are required to take all reasonable steps to minimise the risk of transmission of infectious diseases. This includes being aware of any current infections and ensuring sufficient personal immunity at all times. Failure to adequately prevent the spread of infection can result in serious disciplinary or legal action.
Monitoring of your compliance status and submission of any outstanding documentation is completed via Sonia.
Students have an ethical responsibility to protect the community and are expected to be aware of their infection status at all times.
You must seek immediate medical advice if you are exposed to any risk of infection through an occupational or non-occupational encounter, and must comply with any such advice relevant to your role as a health care student. In the event of a needle-stick injury or other exposure risk occuring while on placement, notify your supervisor immediately and report the incident to the University
Blood borne viruses
All students are required to be tested for infection with blood borne viruses (hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV) within 12 months prior to course commencement. Dental and oral health students are required to repeat this testing annually for the duration of their studies due to the increased risk of transmission of infection through performing exposure-prone procedures.
Students must not perform exposure prone procedures if diagnosed with a blood borne virus until the criteria in the 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 are met.
Disclosure of current blood-borne virus infection to the University is not mandatory, however we encourage you to arrange a confidential discussion with a senior academic in your department for advice about possible impacts on your study and/or career goals.
All students must be screened annually for tuberculosis by QuantiFERON-Gold in-tube test and submit a Tuberculosis Screening Form completed by a medical practitioner registered to practice in Australia.
In order to satisfy the Faculty's minimum infection and immunisation requirements, students must provide evidence of immunity to the following diseases:
|Hepatitis A||Australian serology report indicating immunity to hepatitis A.|
|Hepatitis B||Australian serology report indicating immunity to hepatitis B.|
|Influenza||Vaccination record or written statement from a health practitioner confirming the date you last received an adult dose of influenza vaccine, which must have been within the current calendar year.|
|Measles||Australian serology report indicating immunity to measles.|
|Mumps||Australian serology report indicating immunity to mumps.|
|Pertussis||Vaccination record or written statement from a health practitioner confirming the date you last received an adult dose of dTpa vaccine, which must have been within the past 10 years.|
|Rubella||Australian serology report indicating immunity to rubella.|
|Varicella||Australian serology report indicating immunity to varicella.|
In circumstances where serology is not available for hepatitis A or varicella, students may instead provide a vaccination record or written statement from a health practitioner confirming administration of an age-appropriate course of vaccine. Please note, however, that some placement providers may not accept this as sufficient evidence of immunity.
Serology is always required for hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella.
Infectious disease information
It is important that students understand the risks associated with infectious disease. Click the below links for detailed information about each disease and the requirements for students:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
- Influenza (flu)
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Rubella (German measles)
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- Varicella (chicken pox)
Frequently asked questions
Are vaccination records from other countries accepted?
Vaccination records from other countries will be accepted if:
- The original record is in English (translations are not accepted); and
- The brand of vaccine is recognised in Australia.
Any required serological testing must be undertaken in Australia.
If I satisfy the minimum requirements, will I be able to go on placement anywhere?
The Faculty's infectious control procedures are designed to satisfy the Victorian Government's Vaccination for Healthcare Workers guidelines and the requirements of most placement providers.
Some organisations however, particularly those interstate or overseas, may have different requirements and might require additional immunisations, tests or documentation prior to allowing you to commence placement. These additional requirements will be communicated to you as early as possible to ensure a smooth commencement of placement.
My vaccinations are still in progress. What do I do?
In some cases, students are not able to satisfy all immunisation requirements immediately.
As an example, a complete adult course of vaccination against hepatitis B requires three doses over a six-month period followed by serological testing one month later.
If your vaccinations are still in progress, you should upload to Sonia a letter from your medical practitioner (on letterhead) advising:
- The progress of your vaccinations
- When evidence of immunity expected to be available.
Note that some placement providers will not allow students to commence placement until their immune status is confirmed, so it is important that you commence vaccination as early as possible to avoid any impact on your studies.
If you have concerns, speak with your Course Coordinator.
What if I can't achieve immunity?
If you are unable to achieve immunity for any reason (for example allergy, contraindication such as pregnancy or non-response to vaccination), your doctor is expected to follow the advice contained in the Australian Immunisation Handbook. In situations where immunity still cannot be achieved, you should ask your doctor for education regarding infection risks and appropriate risk management techniques.
If necessary, your doctor may refer you to an infectious diseases specialist for further advice.
In such cases, you should upload to Sonia a written statement from a medical practitioner (on letterhead) advising:
- The reason immunity cannot be achieved
- That risk management advice has been provided
- Any recommended infection control mechanisms the University should be aware of.
The University will communicate relevant information to your assigned placement provider(s) so they can consider the health and safety risks and make a determination about whether they are willing to accept you for placement. We will make every effort to source suitable placements for you, and a staff member from your department will discuss with you further regarding any possible impacts on your studies.
I conscientiously object to vaccination. What impact will this have on my studies?
The University expects that all students are fully immunised prior to undertaking placement. If you are not fully immunised according to the policies of the placement provider, you may not be permitted to undertake placement.
In such situations, the University will attempt to find you a suitable alternative placement but cannot guarantee that this will be possible in all cases. If sufficient placement is not completed, you may be unable to complete your course.
If you conscientiously object to receiving any required vaccinations, you should contact the Health Hub.
How secure is my information?
The University has a contractual obligation to collect information and evidence from students about their current infection and immunisation status, and to communicate that information to placement providers so that they can assess each student's suitability for placement with their organisation.
The University treats the protection of personal and health information very seriously and will comply at all times with both Commonwealth and State privacy legislation, including adherence to the Australian Privacy Principles. Your information will be stored securely and made available to University staff and placement providers strictly on a "need to know" basis only.