Infection and immunisation

As you prepare to undertake your student placement, it is important to understand that there is a risk that infection 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 infectious condition that can be 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 follow adequate steps to protect themselves and others from infection.

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. If you have any questions about immunisation requirements, please contact the Health Hub at health-hub@unimelb.edu.au or +61 3 8344 5890 (option 3).

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Infection screening advice

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 you 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) no more than 12 months prior to course commencement. Students performing exposure-prone procedures, such as dental and oral health students, are required to repeat this testing every three years due to an increased risk of infection transmission.

Students must not perform exposure prone procedures if diagnosed with a blood borne virus until they meet 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.

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.

Tuberculosis

All students must be screened for tuberculosis infection no more than 3 months prior to course commencement and submit a Tuberculosis Screening Form completed by a medical practitioner registered to practice in Australia.

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Immunisation requirements for students

In order to satisfy the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services' minimum infection and immunisation requirements, students must provide to the University evidence of immunity to the following diseases:

Follow the links above for more information about evidence requirements.

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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:

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Frequently asked questions

  • Are immunisation records from other countries accepted?

    Vaccination records from other countries will be accepted if:

    Overseas serology is acceptable if the testing was performed in a facility accredited to the appropriate standard. Eligible facilities must be accredited to the ISO15189 standard for medical testing by an accreditation body that is recorded as a signatory to the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement.

  • 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 Standardised Student Induction Protocol.

    However, some organisations, particularly private providers or organisations outside of Victoria, 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.

  • What does the status of my check on Sonia mean?

    The most common check statuses on Sonia are: Not Complete, Submitted, Cleared, Rejected, and Missing Information.

    • Not Complete = your check was not submitted for assessment yet. Please upload relevant documentation and click on the "Submitted..." button.
    • Submitted = your check was submitted for assessment. A staff member will review it shortly.
    • Cleared = you provided all the documentation required and your check is now complete.
    • Rejected = your documentation did not meet the requirements for this check. Please review the instructions sent to you via email.
    • Missing Information = your check is in progress and you still need to provide further documentation to complete it. This is not a rejection. Please refer to the message sent to you via email.
  • 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 two months later.

    If your vaccinations are still in progress, you should keep your documentation updated on Sonia. The Health Hub staff will monitor the progress of your vaccinations and calculate when evidence of immunity is expected to be available. Your check will remain under the "Missing Information" status until you provide all the documentation required.

    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 or Clinical Placement Officer.

  • What if I can't achieve immunity?

    If you are unable to achieve immunity for any reason (e.g., allergy, contraindication such as pregnancy, non-response to vaccination, etc.), 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.

    If you can't achieve immunity, you should upload to Sonia a written statement from a medical practitioner (on letterhead) advising:

    • That there are medical reasons preventing you from achieving immunity
    • That risk management advice has been provided
    • Any recommended infection control mechanisms the University should be aware of.

    In this case, your check will remain under the "Missing Information" status on Sonia. The University will then 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 we 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 of the required vaccinations, you should contact the Health Hub at health-hub@unimelb.edu.au or +61 3 8344 5890 (option 3). In this case, your check will remain under the "Missing Information" status on Sonia.

  • 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.

    For more information about the University's Privacy Policy, you can contact the Privacy Officer.

  • Who can I contact if I have any questions about immunisation requirements?

    Please get in touch with the Health Hub team with questions about immunisation requirements. We are located on Level 1 of the Brownless Biomedical Library and available for drop in visits from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday*. You can also contact us by phone or email if you are not on campus.

    Address: Level 1, Brownless Biomedical Library
    Parkville Campus, Building 182
    Email: health-hub@unimelb.edu.au
    Phone: +61 3 8344 5890 (option 3)

    *Please note that drop in visits are currently not available as the University has moved to a virtual campus due to COVID-19. However, the Health Hub is still open virtually, and you can talk to the team via phone or email.

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