COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The virus spreads through close contact with an infectious person, contact with fluids from coughs and sneezes of an infectious individual, and contact with infected objects or surfaces.

Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and some people get very sick in a short space of time. While most people recover completely, some people may develop long COVID, where symptoms of COVID-19 remain for weeks (or sometimes months) after the initial infection. Measures such as good hand hygiene, physical distancing, and mask wearing are currently known as effective ways to slow the spread of the virus. It is also important to test for COVID-19 if you develop any cold or flu-like symptoms, no matter how mild.

Requirements for students

The Victorian Government has announced that all Victorian healthcare workers, including students on placement, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and have obtained a booster dose before working at a health or residential care facility.

Students are urged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and obtain a booster dose as soon as possible.

How to access the COVID-19 vaccine

Under current secretary directions (also known as Vaccination of Health Care Workers {COVID-19} Directions - Health Services), healthcare workers (including students) who are eligible for their booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine must be vaccinated before they can work onsite.

Students are required to obtain and provide evidence of their full course of COVID-19 vaccinations (i.e., 2 doses for most brands) plus a booster to the University. The following documentation can be accepted:

  • an official record issued by the Australian Government (such as a COVID-19 digital certificate or Immunisation History Statement) that clearly shows the details of a completed primary course of vaccination with a recognised COVID-19 vaccine plus a booster dose.

It will be mandatory for vaccination providers to make timely recordings of any COVID-19 vaccinations into the Australian Immunisation Register following each dose of the vaccine. For information on how to get proof of your COVID-19 vaccination in Australia, please see here.

You should submit your evidence of full vaccination (including booster) via your Sonia portal. All University of Melbourne students are also required to validate their vaccine information via their e-student portal in order to attend campus, in accordance with the University's COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements Policy.

If you were vaccinated against COVID-19 overseas, please refer to the FAQs section at the end of this page.

If you have any questions about COVID-19 requirements, please contact the Health Hub.

Evidence of COVID-19 vaccination should be submitted via the ‘Checks’ tab on Sonia.

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Advice for international students and other visa holders

International students and other visa holders who are not eligible for Medicare are required to apply for an Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI) in order to have COVID-19 vaccination at some vaccination hubs. The IHI will enable your COVID-19 vaccination and all future vaccinations in Australia to be accurately recorded. It will also give you access to an Immunisation History Statement, which can be used as evidence of your vaccinations.

Students who are not eligible for Medicare will not be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine without an IHI at some vaccination hubs. We recommend starting this process as soon as possible to minimise any delays.

You can apply for an IHI online through your myGov account or using a form. More information is available on the Australian Government website.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  • What if I had COVID-19 vaccination overseas?

    If you had your COVID-19 vaccination done overseas, your records will be accepted if:

    • The vaccine brand you were given is recognised in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA); and
    • Your vaccine doses were uploaded to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) so you can provide acceptable evidence.

    Instructions on how to register your overseas vaccination with the AIR are available here. If you're currently offshore, you will need to wait until you are in Australia to complete this process.

    If you had a COVID-19 vaccine that is not currently recognised in Australia, we recommend seeking advice from your GP on either:

    • Getting vaccinated again with a TGA-approved vaccine if appropriate; or
    • Getting a medical exemption if more doses are not recommended at this point in time.
  • Should I submit evidence of vaccination to the University after each dose?

    Only students who have completed a full course of COVID-19 vaccinations plus a booster dose are permitted to attend clinical placement.

    Please wait until you are fully vaccinated plus a booster dose before submitting your documentation in Sonia. Students who provide evidence of incomplete vaccination will have their check rejected until evidence is submitted that shows they are fully immunised (boosted).

  • I can’t get vaccinated due to medical reasons. What should I do?

    All COVID-19 medical exemptions must be recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). Please seek advice from your doctor, who can assist with updating your immunisation record if you're eligible for a medical exemption from COVID-19 vaccination. There are only two forms of evidence acceptable in this case:

    • A completed Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) - immunisation medical exemption form completed by your doctor; or
    • A copy of your Immunisation History Statement, COVID-19 Digital Certificate or other official documentation from Medicare showing a recorded exemption to COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Do I need a booster shot?

    Yes. Under current secretary direcetions, workers in key sectors (including health and aged care) must receive a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine before being permitted to work onsite.

    You will need to provide evidence in the form of an official record issued by the Australian Government that clearly shows the details of a completed primary course of vaccination with a recognised COVID-19 vaccine plus a booster dose, to the University via the COVID-19 check requirement on Sonia.

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Infection and immunisation